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Tuesday, January 15, 2019
January 15, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:59 PM :: 3058 Views

Caldwell Coverup: Mayor Hid Target Letter from Public--Feds Raid Fasi Building

Audit: HART Board Hands Control to Contractor with Little Oversight

FCC Slaps Down Sandwich Isles Again--Orders Company to Continue Serving Customers

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted January 14, 2019

DCCA: Shop and Compare Insurance Options

Ige Announces More HDoT Appointments

Ige Appoints Three to Board of Regents

Irwin to be UH Hilo Chancellor?

Hawaii Student Loan Debt Doubles in Decade

Senators: Some Cabinet Nominees Won’t Make It

CB: …Four senators told Civil Beat that Jobie Masagatani lacks enough votes to be confirmed for another term as the head of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Masagatani has been under fire for the agency’s lack of progress in building homes and what some senators see as an unwillingness to improve.

Several senators also said that Roderick Becker similarly lacks the votes to be appointed as director of the Department of Budget and Finance. Becker has served as head of the Department of Accounting and General Services since November 2016 and previously was deputy director of the Department of Budget and Finance in 2014.

Nolan Espinda’s reappointment to lead the Department of Public Safety is also shaky, some senators said. Espinda faces scrutiny for treatment of inmates and the agency’s slow progress toward criminal justice reform.…

Related: Ige Reappoints Directors at Eleven Departments

read … Senators: Some Cabinet Nominees Won’t Make It

Honolulu Will Pay Train Maker $160 Million To Cover Rail Delays

CB: … The city is poised to pay Ansaldo Honolulu JV an additional $160 million on top of an existing $616 million deal to deliver Honolulu rail’s driverless trains and communications systems.

The settlement, which the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board is expected to approve Thursday, will cover more than 2,000 days of delays for Ansaldo since the Hitachi-based firm received a $1.4 billion total contract in 2011 to design, build, operate and maintain the project’s trains and signaling systems….

It’s the latest consequence of delays that have plagued the island’s 20-mile, 21-station project for the past decade or so. Last week, a report from the state auditor’s office flagged a separate $354 million in cost increases that occurred when the city awarded rail’s initial construction contracts too early….

On Monday, however, HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins touted the settlement with Ansaldo as a win for taxpayers.

(He then began giggling uncontrollably as worried-looking aides ushered him off the stage….)

HART officials saw the Ansaldo cost increase coming and budgeted for the expense, even though the magnitude of the dispute publicly didn’t surface until a board meeting in September, when board member Ember Shinn said the cost would be “mega-substantial.”….

SA: Robbins said the new settlement will “not add one dollar” to the current budget for rail because the rail authority had already build into its financial plan a sum to resolve the Ansaldo delay claim.

Related: Auditor: Internal Docs Show HART Lied to Public About Rail Costs

read … Honolulu Will Pay Train Maker $160 Million To Cover Rail Delays

Carbon Tax Hustle: Rail Promoter Keynotes State Climate Change Confab

CB: …Hawaii needs to have a “serious, adult, public conversation” about climate change as part of its effort to actually move the ball forward to combat the worst effects of a warming planet, Beverly Scott, a nationally recognized expert in transit and sustainable infrastructure, said Monday….

Hawaii should focus on creating new, more flexible business models that include public, private and nonprofit partnerships, she said, and lay the groundwork with transit-friendly land use and zoning laws. 

(Translation Rail and TOD will solve climate change.  Really?  Rail’s tailpipe is a Kahe Point.)

(According to her website, Scott is “a past Chairperson of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Dr. Scott currently serves on the national Boards of the American Public Transportation Association (www.apta.com), Women’s Transportation Seminar Foundation, (www.wtsinternational.org), Rail-Volution (past Chairperson) (railvolution.org), Americans for Transit (www.americansfortransit.org); and Jobs To Move America (jobstomoveamerica.org).)

(Carbon Tax—Brought to you by the same people who gave you rail.) 

HTH: Aila: ‘We lack the political will’ on climate change

read … Just Like Rail

Hawaii Climate Conference: To Carbon Tax or Not to Carbon Tax

IM: … The first of three major Honolulu conferences in two weeks kicked off yesterday with the inaugural Hawaii Climate Conference. The EUCI Hawai`i Power Summit starts tomorrow, to be followed by the Pacific Telecommunications Conference.

Beverly Scott, a nationally recognized expert in transit and sustainable infrastructure, addressed 200 people at the Hā O Ke Kai Hawaii's Response to Climate Change Conference held yesterday at the East-West Center.

Scott said the Aloha State has the right goals — carbon neutrality, 100 percent renewable energy, a clean transportation sector” according to Civil Beat.

Most audience members appeared unaware of the political spin. Most of the audience raised their hands when asked how many people know that Hawai`i has a 100 percent renewable energy requirement by 2045.

Hawaii has a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard for electricity, not a 100 percent renewable energy goal. The former can be achieved using a high percentage of fossil fuel.

Hawai`i has a goal of carbon neutrality using a political, not a scientific definition, that is, we can achieve politically defined carbon neutrality without actually doing so scientifically.

Scott added, “critical to any action on climate change, however, is ensuring Hawaii builds equitability along with resiliency.” The conference provided no details on what social equity or resilience meant, or how to achieve them.

Scott`s statement that “this is an all-out, all-in war,” drew audience applause. One audience member privately stated, why were out-of-state speakers flown in, couldn`t we have reduced greenhouse gas emission through video conferencing?…

read … Hawai`i Climate Conference: To Carbon Tax or Not to Carbon Tax

AG Opinion Will Lead to More County GE Tax Hikes

HTH: … Armed with an opinion from the state attorney general, Mayor Harry Kim is asking the County Council to consider raising the general excise tax.

After first rejecting the tax, the County Council last year passed a half-size measure, reducing the half-cent surcharge to one-quarter cent and shortening the duration to Dec. 31, 2020, rather than the Dec. 31, 2030, the end date allowed by the Legislature. Collection of the tax began Jan. 1.

The current one-quarter cent on a dollar brings in about $25 million annually; the county could take in $50 million if it were doubled to one-half cent….

Kim said a new council makeup and continued budget pressure from the ongoing Kilauea eruption recovery efforts might lead to an outcome more advantageous for the county. There are three new council members, with the two members on the “no” side of a 7-2 vote, former Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha and former Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, no longer on the council.

He’s also asking the state Legislature for more flexibility in using the tax money, so half of it could be used for something other than roads, bridges, trails and mass transit….

Former Attorney General Russell Suzuki’s opinion came in a Nov. 26 letter to state House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke.

“The legislative history does not discuss whether the counties have only one opportunity to pass an ordinance to establish the surcharge and does not discuss whether amendments to the surcharge, once initially established, can be made,” he said in the letter.

“We believe that Act 11 does not prohibit Hawaii County from passing another ordinance prior to March 31, 2019, that amends the surcharge initially established by Ordinance No. 1874,” Suzuki added. “This interpretation avoids an unjust or unintended result and is supported by the principle that express statutory authority includes the implied authority reasonably necessary to implement the authority expressly granted.”

Luke said she wanted clarification so the county would better understand its options….

“It’s something we’re asking them if they’d find useful,” Luke said about the chance for the county to pass a new ordinance increasing the tax. “Just to get clarity so there’s no confusion. … Now it seems that everybody is on the same issue.”…

read … Mayor eyes another increase to tax after getting favorable opinion from state AG

Honolulu City Council chooses interim chairwoman

SA: … The eight certified members of the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to make Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi their interim chairwoman as a challenge to Trevor Ozawa’s 22-vote election day victory over Tommy Waters remains unresolved.

Councilman Ron Menor was voted interim vice chairman while Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga was elected floor leader….

The Hawaii Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday on the challenges brought separately by Waters and a group of about 40 East Honolulu residents.

It’s unclear when the court will make a determination….

SA: Leong had been scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Hawaii Supreme Court to give oral arguments on a separate case defending the actions of the city Elections Division

read … Honolulu City Council chooses interim chairwoman

Can Pre-K Help DoE Evade Responsibility for Poor Test Scores?

CB: … In the current environment of standardized testing and academic rigor to ensure children are on track for high-school graduation, college and beyond, we often forget that success in school and in life is more than a narrow focus on academics and testing to demonstrate school achievement and “success.”

Success in school and life requires a comprehensive and integrated system of support that ensures a foundation of health, social-emotional well-being and overall wellness; opportunities for quality early-learning experiences; engagement of families who support their child’s development and learning; and a well-prepared and well-supported teacher workforce who can inspire and motivate learning. This support system must start from the earliest years and continue throughout a child’s educational career, even after he or she leaves prekindergarten, to ensure well-rounded, enthusiastic and successful learners.

And measuring the success of that early-childhood support system requires looking beyond academics — into the ability of a child to work cooperatively, problem solve and engage in successful interactions with others, for example. A few years ago, a study dinged the federal Head Start preschool program when its graduates who were assessed in the third grade, did not show better reading and math outcomes than those who did not have preschool experience.

However, there should have been consideration for the fact that these were some of our most disadvantaged children who were socially as well-adjusted as their same-aged peers and demonstrated successful outcomes in areas outside of just reading and math. The study also did not take into account the quality of education provided in the years following preschool — kindergarten through third grade….

read … Latest Trick

Son sentenced for killing and dismembering mom in Waikiki –Plans Already Afoot to Let Him Out

(Count the ways early release is being promoted for this maniac.)

SA: … Yu Wei Gong was charged with murder after he called police in 2017 to turn himself in after a suicide attempt (1). He admitted killing his mother Liu Yun Gong about six months earlier, according to court documents. When officers asked where his mother was, he said “in the fridge.” Police found human remains, including two arms with hands and a decapitated head, in numerous trash bags, court documents said.

Last year, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, avoiding a life sentence (2). His defense attorney and the prosecutor in the case said it’s a deal the victim’s family supports…. (3)

Judge Paul Wong noted the “obviously sensational facts” in the case, even though there was no mention of the gory details. (4)

A parole board will determine the minimum number of years Gong must serve. (5) Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Tashima said his office won’t recommend fewer than 20 years…. (Key word: “Recommend.’)

(Two already served.  He’ll be out in eight more.  Watch and see.)

read … Son sentenced for killing and dismembering mom in Waikiki –Plans Already Afoot to Let Him Out

Arrogant Tweekers Refuse and Resist Shelter in Kailua-Kona

WHT: … At an enforcement meeting Friday afternoon, county officials and service providers laid out realities and discussed solutions on how to engage the hard-to-reach, hard-to-police homeless.

At one point, Roy Takemoto, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim and the man who captained Friday’s get together, was asked what the county would do if the homeless refused to take up occupancy at Village 9 — a planned long-term housing project for homeless located off Kealakehe Parkway.

His response, in so many words, was that the county would force participation by whatever means it could cultivate. But he admitted it would take some creativity.

“We’re all struggling to figure out what the answers are,” he said.

Turning to coercion won’t be as easily done as said considering enforcement strategies to prevent rampant homeless recidivism — particularly in the areas of trespassing, illegal camping and habitual drug use — are almost as handcuffed as the violators against whom they’re implemented.

The difference is the cuffs come off most arrested homeless after a short time, while enforcement freedoms are often much harder and slower to come by.

And Kona’s homeless population hasn’t proven amenable to traditional forms of coercion. Kim cleared illegal campers out of old Old Airport Park last summer. Maurice Messina, deputy director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation, said now that security personnel aren’t patrolling there every evening, several squatters have returned.

“Homeless (are) our No. 1 problem,” he said.

On Monday, asked what she thought about the county’s position of forcing participation in its programs and housing projects, a homeless woman who asked to be identified as Crystal (LOL!) offered a blunt response.

“I’d like to see them (expletive) try,” she said….

read … Officials seek innovative ways like community court as homeless solution

Gabbard Receives Lesson About Switching Sides on Gay Marriage



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