Uber Caldwell: Level the Playing Field for Everybody Except HandiVan
Maui County Community Budget Meetings Announced
Hawaii 4th-Worst Rural Roads in USA
Cashing In on Production Credits
Star-Adv to Puna: Drop Dead
SA: …Some among the island’s county and state leadership have floated the idea of a special session of the Legislature to address problems that have arisen, mostly around the inundation of residential and some agricultural areas of the Puna district.
The really big-ticket questions, especially about aid to property owners, can’t be answered via the shortcut of a special session. There should be reasonable limits placed on such aid, given that the homeowners assumed risk when they decided to build in a lava zone….
(Translation: You bought in Leilani? Drop dead.)
However, there are some emergency needs that the county should separate out from the list and get funded sooner rather than later. The short-term imperatives may become clearer when the officials next meet, a conference slated for Aug. 31. State Rep. Sylvia Luke, who chairs the House Finance Committee, said that these could include costs of transitional shelter and other emergency relief….
…it’s the homeowners who assumed that risk, eyes wide open, who need now to accept losses….
(Translation: Just in case you didn’t hear me the first time, Drop dead.)
Big Q: Overall, what’s your reaction to Hawaii County’s $671 million lava recovery proposal?
Related: HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3
read … Hawaii island’s $671 million lava-recovery plan needs tough debate
‘Cleaning House’ at Kamehameha Schools as Curriculum Shifts to Hawaiian Sovereignty
SA: …Those departing included high school principal Sheena Alaiasa, who had come from Castle High in June 2015 and was the first Hawaii principal named National Middle Level Principal of the Year. Chun informed the school community in a March 29 letter that Alaiasa would be leaving April 2 and “relocating to Utah to focus on the health and well-being of her entire ohana.”
Also exiting at the end of the school year were Puanani Mills Ka‘ai, middle school principal for more than 10 years, and Ronnie Kopp, who had led the elementary school since 2012 and retired June 15….
“Our leaders today, from our trustees to our CEO, have created a vision that within one generation, by 2040, we are going to see and realize that thriving lahui (Native Hawaiian people),” Chun said. “That’s going to take a lot of work.”…
Kamehameha’s sister school on Hawaii island also installed new leaders this summer. Kau‘ulu Gapero became elementary school principal while Tehani Day was named middle school principal after a year as interim leader.
And there was a shift at the executive level of the $11.5 billion trust. Veteran administrator Holoua Stender stepped down Jan. 29 as vice president for education, retiring midway through the school year. CEO Jack Wong appointed a temporary replacement but later decided to eliminate the position he had created in 2015 when he appointed Stender.
The heads of school for Kamehameha’s Kapalama, Maui and Hawaii campuses now report directly to the CEO as part of an executive team, as do vice presidents overseeing areas such as administration and finance….
…The administrative turnover at Kapalama has stirred some concern among parents, staff and alumni. Chun said the “reactions have ranged from uncertainty to excitement at the new opportunities ahead of us — and all the feelings in between.”
Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee, president of the Oahu region of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association, called the situation “an unfortunate circumstance of timing” and added, “there is a lot of misinformation going around.”
“I can tell you that a lot of the alumni are concerned,” Lee said. “I would say that a lot of their concern is based on not understanding the hiring process for positions of that type. Giving the timing of the departures from Kamehameha Schools, it was too late to really find anybody.”
Overall, Lee said he appreciates that Chun and other leaders have clarified that Hawaiian culture-based education at Kamehameha, which roots the kids in their heritage and identity, also aims to “give them a more global perspective, which is what you need in the 21st century.”
“Taking keiki out to the loi, they understand the dynamics of water movement, the square footage of the loi, what you need to produce X amount of kalo,” Lee said. “They’re learning math; they’re learning engineering; they’re learning culture.”
“So far I’ve been very happy with what Taran’s done,” he said. “It seems like the school is moving in a positive direction. Time will tell.”
Wong acknowledged that change can be uncomfortable…
Comment: “"Cleaning House". From current employees to parents, the word is that Taran, the Poʻokula, is cleaning house. Whether true or not, the concern is this is what many beneficiaries believe to be true and can lead to a lack of trust in leadership--more transparency.”
Comment: “Kamehameha needs to be more forthright and admit that the three principals did not simply "leave" as the article implies, but they were fired.”
Comment: “Their parents are anxious that their children make it in Western society as most of them have. Skip the silly and made up sovereignty bunk. Most Hawaiians are anxious to find real solutions to real problems today. Not to rumble about a romanticized past that in many ways never existed.”
read … Kamehameha Schools seeks 3 principals after departures
DoE Fails to Claim $100M/year from Medicaid – But they want to Raise your Taxes
SA: The state each year misses out on potentially tens of millions of dollars in federal reimbursements because it fails to aggressively pursue claims related to teaching Medicaid-insured special education students, according to a review of federal data and interviews with legislators and state officials.
The U.S. government reimbursed the state $259,946 for school-based Medicaid health services in fiscal year 2016 — a fraction of what most other states received, a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data shows.
In 2016, the latest year in which state-by-state statistics are available, states on average received $48 million, according to the CMS data. Hawaii didn’t get even 1 percent of that amount. Three states got nothing….
By contrast, Rhode Island, Montana, Maine and New Hampshire — states with overall student populations comparable to or smaller than Hawaii’s roughly 181,000 — each received $26 million to $38 million in reimbursements, according to the data….
Rep. Sylvia Luke, who heads the House Finance Committee, said she believes the state has been missing out on probably $50 million to $100 million annually for years…. (10 years x $100M = $1Billion Dollars)
(Meanwhile HSTA wants to tax renters.)
read … State forgoing millions in federal reimbursements
Condo Approval: Still Winging it on Rail
Shapiro: …The fight between Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council over SamKoo Hawaii’s 513-unit condominium near the Ala Moana Center rail terminus again points up the the chaos that bedevils rail….
It’s hard to say which is more alarming: that 12 years into planning rail we still don’t know where a mission-critical transit hub will go, or that transit-oriented developers can collect their bounty of fee waivers and variances without having to actually coordinate with the transit system.
The Council’s decision may preclude the last workable route for getting rail from Ala Moana to the University of Hawaii, supposedly the train’s ultimate destination.
It’s another example of how the city’s winging it has run up rail costs from $5.2 billion to $9 billion-plus — and it’s not the only major issue still hanging 12 years into the planning and nearly halfway into the construction.
The city has no idea how it’ll pay some $140 million a year in operating subsidies and is sketchy about dealing with expected sea-level rise that could flood seven of the eight final stations barely two decades years after the full system opens, according to its own Climate Change Commission.
As construction approaches Middle Street, we’re at our last chance to pause….
read … Let’s stop winging it on rail; take the time to get it right
Former Vice Chair of State Real Estate Commission Charged with Embezzlement
HTH: …A Hilo condominium owners’ association is suing a former vice chairman of the state Real Estate Commission and his wife for allegedly embezzling about $120,000 in funds.
The civil lawsuit was filed Monday in Hilo Circuit Court by Hilo attorney Steven Strauss on behalf of Kawili Regency Association of Unit Owners. The defendants are Scott A. Sherley, Penny T. Sherley, SRH Inc., a Maui real estate company doing business as ERA Pacific Properties, and Stephen W. Hogin, SRH’s president.
The suit claims conversion, theft, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence and seeks general and special damages, including costs of investigation, accounting and legal services.
Both Sherleys were indicted in December on two counts each of first-degree theft for the alleged embezzlement at the Kawili Regency, which is at 34 E. Kawili St. in Hilo and the revocable living trust of Edward G. Pereira and Frances G. Pereira, which are not plaintiffs on the civil suit. According to police, the amount allegedly misappropriated from the Pereira trust, owner of Pereira Apartments, was $135,633….
Both Sherleys have pleaded not guilty to both theft charges, which are Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment….
Scott Sherley was a licensed real estate broker, and Penny Sherley, aka Penny Honda, a licensed real estate salesperson. According to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website, both were stripped of their licenses for five years on Jan. 26, 2018.
Scott Sherley was also vice chairman of the state Real Estate Commission until he apparently stepped down following a monthly meeting on Aug. 26, 2016. He had been a member of the regulatory panel since 2010….
read … Lawsuit filed in condo association theft case
Ige Win Shows Unions are Paper Tiger
Borreca: …Gov. David Ige broke no molds, pushed no envelopes with his re-election campaign. He, like any incumbent governor, promised voters little except four more years of the same, and won convincingly.
The campaign’s irony is that Ige was shunned by nearly all of the islands’ power centers and it mattered not at all. If you read the election endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the HGEA, the state’s newspapers plus the Democratic leadership of the state House and Senate, it was all Hanabusa territory. Add in the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and the surviving members of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s political machine.
Clearly Hawaii’s institutions were backing Hanabusa.
For Ige, the massive Hanabusa support made him look like the outsider, not the incumbent.
Only a handful of unions supported the Pearl City Democrat, but they included the Hawaii State Teachers Association providing the grassroots organization fueling his re-election….
read … Unions
“Normal people don’t run for office”
Cataluna: …Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona was in fine form and high spirits on primary election night when he quipped about how difficult it can be to field good candidates in local contests. “Normal people don’t run for office,” he said on Hawaii News Now, and though he was laughing at the time, we all know there’s some truth to that. There are so many, shall we say, fringe candidates. Smart, sturdy, practical people who truly want to do the hard work of public service are becoming more rare….
What happened to those legendary breakfast meetings of old, when the power brokers of the Hawaii Democratic Party would sit with a promising candidate, and over coffee and hotcakes, tell them which office they were going to run for?
Isn’t part of the function of a political party to strategize? To spread out the players across the board? Some of the best and brightest all crowded together into the same races, so now all that political experience is sitting at home updating resumes.
Aiona was right, and particularly about his own party. Republicans need to strategize, not just sit back and opine while crackpots don their party label. Without opposition for legislative seats in the general election, Democrats bunch up in the handful of big races, some good candidates get wiped out, and we end up without enough qualified, experienced, normal people actually running the government….
read … Cataluna
Multi-Millionaire Realtor Behind Maui Anti-GMO Candidates
MN: …“It’s not going to be a cakewalk for those candidates,” said (milti-millionaire realtor) Mark Sheehan, chairman of S.A.F.E. Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment, a super PAC backing ‘Ohana candidates.
But Sheehan said he believes the underdog ‘Ohana candidates can win by having a “very clear message” and “staying the course” to upend incumbents, who he says have failed to meet residents’ demand for affordable housing. “What they’ve been doing is kicking the can down the road while we’re running out of road,” he said….
the pundits’ consensus leaves the establishment candidates with at least four council seats, one short of the majority; and ‘Ohana candidates with two likely winners.
After that, things get dicey as far as political prognostication. The ‘Ohana candidates would need to win all three remaining seats to take the council majority while the established candidates need just one….
Freshman Council Member Alika Atay, a member of the ‘Ohana Coalition, will defend his seat against former Council Member Alice Lee, who served from 1989 to 1998, when she made an unsuccessful bid for mayor, barely losing the Democratic primary by 90 votes to eventual winner James “Kimo” Apana.
Atay’s campaign for re-election is under a cloud of controversy over the actions and behavior of his executive assistant Brian Bardellini. A council committee is reviewing a $100,000 county grant awarded to Bardellini for events honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu’s 250th birthday in March.
Mayer called the contest between Atay and Lee a “tough, very competitive race.”…
Sheehan said Atay has received “rough treatment” (cry me a river) from “extensive coverage”of the Bardellini controversy, and he believes the aide has been more of a distraction than an asset….
read … Not ready for prime time
Hooser’s Anti-GMO Squad Makes Gains in Legislature
SA: …The progressive movement made solid net gains in the Hawaii House and the Senate, picking up at least two House seats and three YUGE Senate seats. In addition, several candidates running on an unabashedly progressive agenda lost by only a handful of votes. Two striking examples are Maui progressive challenger Terez Amato who finished only 106 votes behind incumbent Sen. Rosalyn Baker, and Sonny Ganaden who landed just 51 votes short of defeating veteran politician, Romy Cachola for House District 30….
read … Regressive Progressives
Maui County Hires Internet Sleuth to Build List of Illegal TVRs
MN: …The county Planning Department hopes that a company that specializes in rooting out illegal short-term rentals will help them crack down on the problem over the coming months.
Planning Director Michele McLean said the department expects LODGINGRevs, a Colorado-based company hired by the county earlier this year, to produce its first list of potentially illegal operators by the end of the month.
“This is a new technology, a new business that’s emerging because of the problem with these uses,” McLean said Thursday. “And this is happening all over the country.”
On Nov. 6, Maui County voters will get to decide whether to increase illegal rental fines from $1,000 to $20,000, and $10,000 every day of violation after that. But in the eyes of some residents, no amount of fines will do any good until the county can chase down those who have yet to pay up….
read… Rooting out, cracking down on illegal short-term rentals
Maui Sand Mining Protests Yielding Changes to Grading and Grubbing Permits
MN: …The council’s Land Use Committee, which I chair, has two proposed bills relating to the sand moratorium: a bill aimed at making the grading and grubbing permit process more efficient and effective, and a bill clarifying the definition of resource extraction. Both bills serve the purpose of regulating the extraction of inland sand.
Grading and grubbing permits are essential for the preparation of any site for development. However the processes in place for approval of these permits are convoluted and ineffective. Currently, the Department of Public Works and the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources both play a role in the grading and grubbing permit approval process. According to the Maui County Code, when the Department of Public Works receives a grading and grubbing permit application, it sends the application to SHPD, which has 10 days to review the application and provide comments. Upon receipt of SHPD’s comments, the director of public works makes his or her determination….
The first bill, LU-47, addresses this oversight, ensuring SHPD’s and SWCD’s review of the grading and grubbing permit application and giving SHPD more control over the grading and grubbing process.
The second bill, LU-48, improves upon the vague definition of resource extraction by including a definition of resource “processing” in the code. The bill is also integral for the preservation of inland sand.
read … Bills to satisfy sand moratorium pending before council committee
North Shore residents hold peaceful protest at Laniakea
KHON: …Parking at Laniakea Beach on the North Shore was near impossible today.
That's because several residents decided to park their car there so beach-goers couldn't .
Traffic at Laniakea been a problem for years.
"The traffic here has become horrendous, and it's affecting our locals to the max," North Shore resident Jack Reid said.
"It's becoming impossible to live out here with this traffic," Boyd Ready added. …
read … North Shore residents hold peaceful protest at Laniakea
Empty hotels, idle boats: What happens when a Pacific island upsets China
R: …Empty hotel rooms, idle tour boats and shuttered travel agencies reveal widening fissures in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau, which is caught in an escalating diplomatic tug-of-war between China and Taiwan….
Late last year, China effectively banned tour groups to the idyllic tropical archipelago, branding it an illegal destination due to its lack of diplomatic status.
As China extends its influence across the Pacific, Palau is one of Taipei’s 18 remaining allies worldwide and is under pressure to switch allegiances, officials and business people there say.
“There is an ongoing discussion about China weaponizing tourism,” said Jeffrey Barabe, owner of Palau Central Hotel and Palau Carolines Resort in Koror. “Some believe that the dollars were allowed to flow in and now they are pulling it back to try and get Palau to establish ties diplomatically.”
In the commercial center of Koror, the Chinese pullback is obvious. Hotel blocks and restaurants stand empty, travel agencies are boarded and boats which take tourists to Palau’s green, mushroom shaped Rock Islands are docked at the piers.
Prior to the ban, Chinese tourists accounted for about half the visitors to Palau. Of the 122,000 visitors in 2017, 55,000 were from China and 9,000 from Taiwan, official data showed….
read … Empty hotels, idle boats: What happens when a Pacific island upsets China
Longtime Hawaii Republican Fred Rohlfing
SA: …In his 2010 memoir, “Island Son: The Life and Times of Hawaii’s Republican Reformer,” Rohlfing observed with some concern the increasing power of Hawaii’s public worker unions and the growing influence of what he described as “single issue” citizen groups that he believed led to an unhealthy fragmentation of Hawaii politics.
He also wrote critically of the “aggressive environmental interest lobby that I believe has overstepped its appropriate role,” citing the failure of the Hawaii Superferry as “a classic case of the frustration of public goals.”…
Background: Fred Rohlfing’s Island Son Presents an Alternative View of Hawaii Politics
read … Longtime Hawaii Republican Fred Rohlfing