Hawaii Highest Energy Costs--Lowest Consumption
CNBC: America's Top States for Business -- Hawaii 47th
Letters being mailed to 44,000 impacted by storage crash of driver licensing documents
The FCC is changing up the country’s emergency alert system to prevent another Hawaii incident
City Terminates Watts Constructors’ Right to Work on Joint Traffic Management Center
Homeless Criminals Overrun Lava Evacuation Centers—Scare Victims Away
SA: …During the 10 weeks since emergency evacuation centers opened in a hurry to house people chased from their homes by the Kilauea eruption, Hawaii County police were called 118 times to the sprawling Pahoa shelter, and another 21 times to the much smaller shelter in Keaau.
Through July 2, police were called to the Pahoa center for incidents that included a 56-year-old male lava evacuee who hanged himself; a 56-year-old man who pulled down his pants to expose himself; a 13-year-old girl who was grabbed on the buttocks by a 39-year-old man; multiple thefts, drug use, drug dealing and domestic disturbances; and the June 18 discovery of a .38-caliber handgun….
As of Tuesday night, the American Red Cross’ Hawaii Chapter reported that 65 people were living inside the Pahoa shelter and 100 more were living outside. Thirteen people were living inside the Keaau shelter and 23 more were outside.
Hawaii County Police Maj. Samuel Jelsma provided no estimate for the number of people living in the evacuation centers who were likely homeless before Kilauea began erupting on May 3.
But Jelsma said, “Not all of the people that are at these shelters are evacuees. That may be contributing to the experience there. … We do respond to any calls that are reported there. We do have officers make regular checks, and walk-throughs. We are showing a presence there.”…
The most serious calls came out of Pahoa.
For example, on May 9 a 20-year-old man tried to throw “a large rock” and was taunting people; on May 10, a 16-year-old boy was cut during a third-degree assault; on May 29, a 35-year-old man head-butted a 32-year-old man during an argument; on June 2, there was a report of a fourth- degree sexual assault of the 13-year-old girl ; on June 15, a 53-year-old woman was slapped by her 41-year-old boyfriend; and on June 29, a 51-year-old man was bitten by a dog.
April Buxton, 44, who had organized a communal kitchen and distributed donated items at the the Pahoa shelter, moved out last week, in part because she said she did not feel safe.
“Yeah, it obviously played a role,” said Buxton, who was taken in by a friend of a friend in Hawaiian Paradise Park. “As more and more people came in, it became more and more clear they weren’t going to turn anybody away. You didn’t know if you have violent offenders or sexual predators. There were a lot of ice heads and thieves and violent people. It just wasn’t a very safe environment.”
Buxton estimates that more than half of the people getting free food, supplies, showers and bathroom access at the Pahoa center weren’t from the mandatory evacuation zones….
read … Incidents add to stress at lava shelters
Waikiki: Bystanders Provide Attitude Adjustment to Homeless Criminal
SA: …The homeless man who allegedly attacked a tourist on Sunday afternoon at Kuhio Beach was in the hospital Tuesday, recovering from injuries suffered when bystanders piled on him and held him until police arrived.
Honolulu police arrested Preston Kealii Smith, 30, on Sunday. The man, who is unemployed and has no local address, was charged with third degree assault, criminal contempt of court and revocation or modification of probation conditions. Smith is alleged to have attacked Ashleigh Andreasen, 28, a hair stylist from Mesa, Ariz., who was in town to celebrate her birthday. Smith has been convicted of at least four prior crimes.
Andreasen said Smith attacked her after she tried to stop him from throwing an elderly homeless man’s belongings into the street. Andreasen said she didn’t think about her safety before intervening because the elderly man needed her help….
Andreasen said she was telling Smith, “It’s not nice to throw someone’s belongings into the street,” when he punched her twice in the face. Andreasen said she passed out from the force of the blows, which knocked her into a palm tree. She suffered a concussion and bruises to her lip, jaw and the side of her ear.
“I was taken to the hospital unconscious. Yeah, it was scary,” said a teary-eyed Andreasen, who was still black and blue on Wednesday. “But I don’t regret it. I would do it again. He (the elderly man) wasn’t able to defend himself and I did what I needed to do to get his belongings back.”
A video of the incident shows a crowd of bystanders holding Smith on the ground until police arrived…. (No doubt ACLU lawyers are demanding the video so they can sue the bystanders.)
Court records show that Smith is wanted for more than $20,000 in outstanding warrants. According to court documents, he pleaded no contest to a theft in the fourth degree charge stemming from a Feb. 4, 2015 incident at Walmart. He also pleaded no contest twice to separate harassment charges, one stemming from a June 4, 2015 incident and another stemming from a July 18, 2016 incident. On Jan. 10, 2008, he entered a guilty plea for robbery in the second degree and was sentenced to five years of probation, 300 hours of community service, a $200 fine, and one year of jail with credit for time served. At the time, the state also elected not to prosecute a related charge of felony kidnapping.
According to court records, Smith is part of Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), a probation program started in 2004 by First Circuit Judge Steven Alm that aims to reduce probation violations by drug offenders and others at high risk of recidivism….
read … Tourist helps man at Waikiki beach and gets knocked out
County approaches Shipman about housing for evacuees
HTH: Hawaii County is looking beyond public lands for a potential land swap with Puna residents who lost their homes to lava.
Roy Takemoto, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, said an idea being explored is to partner with a private land owner by providing infrastructure for a development in exchange for land being set aside for evacuees.
That’s an option that he said was raised with W.H. Shipman, which plans to seek zoning changes for property in Keaau for a residential and commercial development. Takemoto said the discussions are preliminary, and the matter hasn’t been taken to the Shipman board.
“We initiated talks with them, but they need to do their own due diligence,” he said.
Takemoto said a benefit would be housing displaced residents near services and jobs while being able to transfer the land to them. Use of state land near Pahoa for relocation is another option being considered, though residents likely would have to lease the land rather than own it outright.
Shipman President Bill Walter said they’ve had “broad discussions” with the county but wouldn’t characterize it as involving a land swap….
During Tuesday’s eruption meeting in Pahoa, Mayor Harry Kim characterized the relocation efforts as the “future of Puna,” which also will incorporate agriculture.
He asked for patience from those in attendance and noted the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency are working on the issue.
“We’re not just talking about dividing up land,” Kim said. “We’re talking about building a community, which means resources of roads, resources of water and power and those things, which will take time to plan and implement.
“My promise to you is give us time, and we will get this done.”
During the meeting, residents were asked a series of questions about their situation, including whether they lost a home and how much they can afford for rent, with hand-held clickers recording their answers.
One question asked was where they would stay if they had to wait 18 months for a land exchange. Kim said he didn’t know if it would take that long.
Takemoto said the county is using the surveys to fine-tune assistance programs, which also could involve funding more Section 8 housing vouchers and changing building regulations to allow for additional housing units on properties, in addition to other steps. He noted that many participating in the survey responded that they couldn’t afford rent more than $500 a month. (Solution: Put everybody on welfare.)
“That tells me we need to focus a lot on rentals and possibly increase our amount for the Section 8 rental subsidy voucher program,” Takemoto said…. (Anything to avoid fee-simple real estate.)
Background: HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3
read … County approaches Shipman about housing for evacuees
Star-Adv Runs OHA Waimea Valley Fluff Piece
SA: "Hi‘ipaka LLC, a sub-entity to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs"
" the city, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Army, the National Audubon Society and OHA formed a partnership to acquire the land and pass the title to OHA."
"In 2008 OHA transferred the land to its nonprofit Hi‘ipaka LLC"
"“The site was in the red for four years. You have to give OHA a lot of credit for supporting it until it could be made profitable,” he (Pezzulo) said."
"With the valley operationally sustainable and no longer dependent on OHA funding, Pezzulo said net gains are finally available to address new operational and capital needs."
The article also mentions a new land deal....3.75 ac at entrance…
Really Obvious Question: If Waimea Valley is doing so well, why is OHA and its LLCs hiding Hiipaka LLC check register?
read … Waimea Valley finally in the black and expanding after years of financial struggle
Council OKs Property Tax Break For Active-Duty Military Personnel
CB: …The Honolulu City Council approved a measure Wednesday to give a property tax break to active-duty military personnel.
If it’s signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Bill 91 gives military homeowners an exemption on the first $80,000 of the value of their property as long as they provide proof of service status.
The measure was introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin last year. It gained final approval on a 6-2 vote.
Hawaii National Guard Enlisted Association President R. Maui Quizon told the council that more than 100 service members submitted written testimony in support of the bill….
SA: Veto property tax break for military
Big Q: Should active-duty military members get a property tax break, which would total $1 million less per year for city coffers?
read … Council OKs Property Tax Break For Active-Duty Military Personnel
The city opened its waitlist for rental subsidies for 4 days — and 11,000 households applied
HNN: …So many applications came in that the city is now planning to hold a lottery to get onto the waitlist. From those who applied, 2,000 will be randomly selected to actually secure a spot on the list.
They'll be added to some 665 people who have been on the list since 2014.
The Section 8, or federal Housing Choice Voucher, program provides subsidies to help low-income families cover all or part of their rental costs.
To qualify, families must bring in 50 percent or less of the median income for Honolulu. For a family of four, that means $58,300 or less.
The city said that as of May 31, the average subsidy for Section 8 families is $1,157.
Some 3,574 households get the subsidy through the city's Department of Community Services.….
read … The city opened its waitlist for rental subsidies for 4 days — and 11,000 households applied
$46,000 of grant to Atay’s assistant is being withheld—Trinette Furtado Defends Atay, Bardellini
MN: …It is unclear how much of the remaining $46,000 of the $100,000 county grant awarded to Council Member Alika Atay’s executive assistant will be disbursed, the county Office of Economic Development director told a council committee Wednesday.
Office of Economic Development Director Teena Rasmussen told the council Budget and Finance Committee that the rest of grant for events honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu’s 250th birthday in March and awarded to Atay’s executive assistant Brian Bardellini is being withheld due to reports of unpaid vendors from funds already disbursed.
“The only leverage the county has is to withhold future funds before everything is verified,” Rasmussen told the committee. “If I give out all the funds, there is no more leverage. Then we just have to pick up the pieces. We really want to be careful and that’s our responsibility to the County of Maui taxpayers.”
The Office of Economic Development also questioned invoices turned in for reimbursement by Bardellini. Those included $5,000 paid to a Los Angeles marketing expert, $680 for a database of thousands of emails and postal addresses, and $400 for a laser printer for a one-time grant….
The grant for two events honoring the queen’s birthday in March was inserted into the county budget by Atay and awarded to Bardellini. The events were held March 17 in Hana and March 23 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
The Office of Economic Development presented its 235-page report to the council Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday, which included emails and documents that show that up to $10,000 had not yet been paid to entertainers, chaplains, security and other workers nearly four months after the events.
The unpaid amount also includes about $2,200 still owed to the MACC, which also cited Bardellini for five contract and county violations…/.
“I cannot recall a time where we’ve ever had vendors of events call up and say I didn’t get paid for this event,” Rasmussen said. “I can’t recall a time it’s ever happened before this.”…
Bardellini also claims that president of the entity he formed to receive the grant funds, Claudia Kalaola, received about $5,000 in cash and has yet to account for or return the money. He added that Kalaola, who organized the Hana event, submitted unapproved and unauthorized invoices from her family business….
Trinette Furtado, Atay’s other executive assistant who said she was testifying Wednesday as an individual, defended Bardellini.
She said that the council committee’s review appears to be “favoritism or retaliation,” that this grant has been scrutinized more than others, and that other council members and their staff have engaged in similar activity.
Furtado, who is running for the council’s Makawao-Haiku-Paia residency seat
read … $46,000 of grant to Atay’s assistant is being withheld
Political Insiders Sell 850 Pounds of Weed
KITV: …Nearly $7 million of medical marijuana has been sold in Hawaii over the past 10 months.
The numbers continue to rise. The amount of registered medical cannabis patients in Hawaii now beyond 21,000 people who've bought nearly 850 pounds of marijuana since September of last year….
The six dispensaries in operation collected $6.7 million over the past 10 months. The largest customer base patients are between the ages of 56-and-65. 65 percent of patients have ‘pain’ (LOL!) listed as their qualifying condition…
PBN: Out-of-state registry program could add 30K patients to Hawaii’s medical cannabis market
read … Keep the People Doped up
Lawyer: Dozens of Homosexual Child Molesters Became Hawaii priests
KHON: …Allegations of Hawaii priests sexually assaulting children date as far back as the 1950s.
A detailed report compiled by law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates PA and the Law Office of Mark Gallagher reveal 58 men associated with the Diocese of Honolulu who have been accused of sexually abusing children.
The report also shows a letter written by a priest with Maryknoll Fathers, dated November 6, 1959, to another priest on the mainland. In the letter, the priest admits Hawaii was considered a "dumping ground" for troubled clerics from the mainland and the Philippines and Guam. He warned against transferring two troubled priests to the islands, adding "these two men might be most dangerous out here."
The letter went on to continue: "If you decide to send them out, I would ask that it is made plain that we will not stand for any nonsense out here."
Lawmakers have now extended the window for survivors of sexual abuse. Victims have until April 24,2020 to come forward and file a civil claim.
The extension has helped victims like John Pedro, 69.
"Being an altar boy, and the confessional, I believe that was the open door for them."
The Kailua man spent decades harboring a secret. In the 50s, he says he was molested by 2 priests at Saint Anthony's Church in Kailua….
NCR: Honolulu Diocese was a 'dumping ground for troubled clerics,' abuse report says
PDF: Report (The word ‘boy’ occurs 14 times in the report. Only one mention of a ‘girl.’)
read … 58 Hawaii priests accused of child sex abuse
AG: Alleged Charity Scammer Busted Again
HNN: The Attorney General’s office is proposing fines of more than $135,000 against two nonprofits for multiple alleged violations of the state’s charitable solicitation laws.
The Law Enforcement Community Foundation, which raises money largely though telemarketing, has been hit with fines of more than $111,000 for failing to register as a nonprofit fundraiser and for failing to file financial reports. The AG's office said it also used deceptive sale pitches.
Another company, the Firefighters Emergency Fund, was fined more than $23,000. The president of that fund, Mary Jean Castillo, is also the executive director of the Law Enforcement Community Foundation….
This is not the first time Castillo has gotten into trouble with the Attorney General's office.
AG investigations in 2015 and 2008 forced Castillo to shut down another fundraising firm and pay more than $20,000 in fines. Those prior issues are likely the reason the most recent fines are so high….
read … 2 charities could face fines for potential violations of state laws
Organic Food is a Fraud
ABC: …The "USDA Organic" label generally signifies a product is made with relatively minimal synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and that animals are raised according to certain guidelines. But disputes over the rules, and questions about adherence, may raise doubts about whether the price is justified.
A federal audit in September found the U.S. Department of Agriculture was "unable to provide reasonable assurance" that required documents for imported organic grains were reviewed at domestic ports of entry, among other weaknesses. The Washington Post last year had reported that massive shipments of the imported grains intended mostly for animal feed were wrongly labeled as organic, and also questioned practices by major organic dairy and egg producers.
Some farmers also say practices have strayed from the spirit of the rules about organic food, and are planning new labels.
A lot is at stake. Last year, organic food sales came to more than $45 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association, an industry group. That represented more than 5 percent of overall U.S. food sales….
read … Is the "organic" seal worth it, given disputes on standards?
Why banning plastic straws upsets people with disabilities
CNN: …Daniel Gilbert uses plastic straws to drink his coffee in the morning. For much of his life, the 25-year-old has carried them with him everywhere. He's had to, because all plastic straws aren't the same.
Gilbert needs them to be the right length, and they have to be able to handle hot temperatures. And many restaurants don't offer what he needs.
The Owensboro, Kentucky, resident was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes the muscles to progressively deteriorate. As his muscles weakened, it became harder for him to pick up something like a cup, so Gilbert began carrying straws when he reached his twenties….
read … Why banning plastic straws upsets people with disabilities
Unwanted Recyclables Catch Fire in Keaau
HTH: …Arriving firefighters found a fire burning in several areas of the 36,000-square-foot warehouse of a private recycling enterprise, which was about half full of 16-foot-high recycled bales of cardboard, paper and plastics. (Translation: All the stuff China won’t take anymore.)
Five Department of Public Works front loaders, and a private front loader, skid steer and mini excavator were brought in to help.
The fire was reported under control at 5 a.m. and extinguished at 6:30 a.m….
read … Unwanted Recyclables Catch Fire in Keaau