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Friday, July 5, 2019
July 5, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 2298 Views

Lyon Corruption: While Son in Law Rots in Federal Detention, President Christian Returns to FSM Senate

'Life, liberty and ... property'

NIFLA v. Becerra: One Year Later, Still the Most Significant Abortion SCOTUS Case in Decades

Energy: Hawaii has Highest Prices, Lowest Consumption

Harvard: High Housing Costs Caused by 'Regulatory Constraints on Development'

ACLU Claims Prosecutor Retaliated Against Safe House Whistle-blowers

Avoiding Responsibility: Rail Project Loses More Top Deputies

CB: … Last month the Honolulu rail project’s top executive, Andrew Robbins, traveled to San Francisco to hand-deliver the latest draft of the transit project’s recovery plan — the last version he hopes he’ll ever have to submit.

The plan, years in the making, aims to assure the Federal Transit Administration that despite the troubles of recent years, rail is back on solid financial footing and managed by a capable, experienced staff.

Among those highlighted was Nicole Chapman, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s deputy executive director of procurement, contracts and construction claims.

“Ms. Chapman has been with HART for five years and has over 20 years’ experience in procurement and contracts,” the plan stated. “Ms. Chapman’s local knowledge relating to construction contract procurement and interpretation of agreement language adds to HART’s ability to manage contracts.”

Not long after Robbins’ FTA delivery, however, Chapman was gone. She became the latest in a string of top deputies and board members to resign from Hawaii’s largest-ever public works project….

With Chapman’s exit, HART lacks a deputy executive director overseeing procurement just as it pursues a radical procurement change that officials say is unprecedented among U.S. transit projects.

By switching mid-construction to a so-called public private partnership, or “P3,” HART and the city hope to avoid the budget and schedule crises of the past while building the rail line’s most difficult stretch to Ala Moana….

Since 2015 the agency has been led by four different executive directors, including Robbins. It’s seen three different deputy directors for design and construction. It’s currently looking to hire its third chief financial officer in that time frame after the previous two resigned.

Five deputy directors for right-of-way and property acquisition have left the project since 2015, which is frustrating to private landowners along the route.

At least 20 directors, managers or prominent personnel have left since 2015….

Krishniah Murthy, HART’s former interim executive director who stayed two more years as a senior advisor, also left the agency last week to spend more time with his family in Southern California….

read … ‘It’s A Struggle’: Rail Project Loses More Top Deputies

Superintendent of schools bending to parent freak-outs

Cataluna: … First, a report from the American Civil Liberties Union finds that Hawaii public school kids miss more school days because of disciplinary suspension than kids in other states, an average of 43 suspended days for every 100 students compared with the national average of 23 days.

Then there’s the superintendent of schools bending to parent freak-outs and banning Roundup from every public school campus in the state because … well, because some believe the herbicide could cause cancer, and those prone to worry aren’t likely to believe the Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that it doesn’t. Better safe than sorry. Better safe than having parents holding signs and starting online petitions..

So this coming school year looks to be one of weedy playgrounds and, hopefully, rethinking punishments for kids who act up.

And that there is a ripe combination.

In Hawaii’s not-too-distant past, back when school lunch cost a quarter and Pee-Chee folders held purple-ink mimeographed worksheets, students were made to pull weeds on the school grounds as a punishment for bad behavior …

read … Old schools weeded out bad behavior

SB767: Increasing The Exemption For Handyman Work Is Long Overdue

CB: … Senate Bill 767 was approved by the 2019 Legislature and aims to increase the so-called handyman exemption from $1,000 to $1,500, “removing all costs other than labor and materials.”…

an additional $500 is lowballing it. Adjusted for inflation, $1,000 in 1992 would be equal to about $1,845 today — an 85% increase. Yet fines for being in violation of Hawaii’s contractor licensing laws have increased “fivefold,” according to the bill….

CB: Reconsidering The Handyman Work Exemption Bill

read … SB767: Increasing The Exemption For Handyman Work Is Long Overdue

Progress on Sewers, Not on Cesspools

SA: … The 2006 spill gave rise to a federal and state lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu that was settled in a 2010 consent decree that compelled the city to pay a fine of $1.6 million and repair and improve its antiquated sewage system.

After eight years of work and regular reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city has met the requirement of rehabilitating its 2,100 miles of sanitary sewer pipes, said Lori M.K. Kahikina, director of the Department of Environmental Services.

Kahikina said many people are unaware the sanitary and stormwater sewers are completely separate, but stormwaters can invade sanitary systems. For example, “several of our manholes are in Kalihi Stream, and when stormwaters rose high enough, the manhole covers could lift off.”

Since the consent decree, the department has installed locking manhole covers in the stream.

Asked whether she was happy with their progress, “I’m happy our spills have reduced drastically, but there’s always room for improvement,” Kahikina said. “In 2006 we had 2,000 sewage spills. Last year we had 44.”

While storms continue to provoke occasional discharges of more than 30,000 gallons of raw sewage into streams and the ocean, “to put it in perspective, Sand Island treats 67 million gallons of sewage per day, and in a major storm, that goes up to 250 million gallons a day.”

The next step under the consent decree is to upgrade the Honouliuli sewage plant from primary to full secondary treatment by 2024, and the Sand Island plant by 2035.

Meanwhile cesspools are stagnating, with no action yet being taken to replace any of the 88,000 cesspools in the state, as required by Act 125, passed by the Legislature in 2017, to happen by 2050….

Related: Feds Debunk Surfrider's Fake Bacteria Counts

read … Despite progress, cesspool woes persist

Hawaii #2 for Government Spending on Art

OC: …According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, California now invests 0.66 cents per person in the arts, which places it 26th out of 50 states in per capita spending. (Since you’re curious, Minnesota is number 1 at $7 per person; Hawaii ($3.97 per person), Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Wyoming, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Ohio round out the top 10.) ….

read … It’s an Art Form

Nine-Day Power Outage in Kalaeloa

SA: … In 2017, a collaborative federal, state and private sector study noted that HECO was unwilling to take over the Navy power system due to concerns over its condition.

Since the 1999 base closure, “the Navy has not made any investments in the electrical system, making repairs only as needed, such that the current system does not meet industry standards,” the report said.

Most tenants complained of multiple power outages each month that lasted between one and eight hours.

HECO estimated power system upgrades in Kalaeloa would cost $300 million to $400 million, while the study suggested alternative power production methods at a cost of between $200 million and $300 million….

If he had known the outage would last so long, Mita said, he could have made arrangements to transfer the perishable items.

“Normally outages are from an hour to two hours, and the most that we’ve ever had a power outage here was maybe 12 hours — not nine days,” he said.

Mita did get a 40-foot refrigeration unit on site Wednesday afternoon. “We tried to save whatever we could in our frozen and chilled back rooms,” he said. But he still estimates he lost thousands of pounds of food.

The store’s 45 employees have been temporarily farmed out to other Tamura’s outlets, Mita said….

read … Tamura’s Market suffers massive loss of food during 9-day power outage in Kalaeloa

Forget the Earth, save Hulahe Street!

PBN: … “We made the news,” my mom said when I visited recently at the old house in Waipahu where I grew up.

Oh? I looked up the clip on Hawaii News Now and my heart sank. There it was. All the gory details of the about dozen or so squatters who have taken over the house next to my mom’s after our neighbor Rudy died with no apparent heirs. The squatters get into shouting matches at all hours of the night, the neighbors are sure it’s a drug den based on the craziness and strangers coming and going all the time, trash and junk have piled up in the yard and along the curb. The residents of Hulahe Street call the cops on these people all the time and nothing gets better, nothing changes.

This has been going on for four years. I’m well aware of it because for three months, while my Marco Polo apartment was undergoing post-fire asbestos removal, I moved back home to my old room. I probably called the cops four times myself when the 3 a.m. domestics sounded like murder in the making. The squatters don’t have electricity, they use lanterns. They don’t have water, they trespass into people’s yards and steal it from hoses.

Constant police visits haven’t changed anything. City councilmember Ron Menor hasn’t been able do anything except bring it up with the mayor. The most the city could offer to Hawaii News Now is that no one is paying property taxes at that address, so, maybe, in 2020, the city can foreclose on the home.

Property taxes, huh? My mom and her neighbors are mostly original owners, now in their 70s and 80s. They did their part. They’ve been paying property taxes for 50 years on Hulahe Street. When the city needed, they gave. Now, they need the city’s help. They feel menaced. On top of that, the squatter house is an eyesore ruining their property values.

They get sympathetic shrugs.

I’ve about had it with this town. The former police chief and his city prosecutor wife were just found guilty of criminal conspiracy, with more trials to come for Katherine Kealoha for other crimes allegedly committed via the powers of her office. The prosecutor’s office overall is under federal investigation. Rail is late, over budget, full of defects and under the federal microscope, with the city recently hiring a separate attorney just to handle the subpoenas. And the city can’t even pick up our garbage, the latest version of bulky item pick-up is a train wreck, leaving more garbage on our streets than before.

Then, to top it all off, it rained a lot last week and I got a media statement from the city’s new chief resilience officer, Josh Stanbro, insisting that the record-breaking amount of rain in June has “climate change’s finger prints all over it,” that it was a winter storm six-months out of season and “not normal, not natural” and we all need to “cut the cord on fossil fuels.”

I checked the National Weather Service Facebook page and learned the rain gauge records at Honolulu airport only go back to 1940. There have been 3 million Junes on Oahu — the estimated age of the island — we have data for 79 of them. The city has no idea how much it can rain in June, let alone state with any certainty that we brought June’s rain upon ourselves with our carbon sins.

With Hulahe Street on my mind, I just found that galling. “Resilience” apparently means unscientific climate hyperbole but not truly resilient neighborhoods. All this grandiose talk about changing our lifestyles, and cutting cords and saving the Earth … Save the Earth? The city can’t even save Hulahe Street from a single derelict house….

read … Forget the Earth, save Hulahe Street!

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