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Wednesday, July 24, 2019
July 24, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:50 PM :: 2895 Views

Fighting for Details on How Hawaii DoE Spends $2 Billion

Former Laborers Union leader charged, accused of stealing thousands

Judges Refuse: No Halt to Telescope Construction--No End to Emergency Proclamation

UH Board of Regents elects new leadership

Imua TMT: Pro-Telescope Rallies Set for Thursday

Mauna Kea Observatories: "Uncertainty About what Lies Ahead"

City holding workshops to update Primary Urban Center plan

Ige makes first visit to Mauna Kea since TMT protests began

SA: … Gov. David Ige arrived at the site of the Mauna Kea protests shortly before 5:30 p.m today, and was greeted by a crowd that numbered about 1,000. It is his first visit to Mauna Kea since protests began on July 15.

Four protest organizers greeted and embraced Ige, and the crowd chanted as he approached the tent that serves as headquarters for the kupuna. Ige was given a lei and invited to step forward to speak to the crowd.

Ige passed through the tent, embracing kupuna as he went, and many smiled as they hugged him. Most took the opportunity to have a brief, quiet exchange with the governor, and some shed tears.

Ige told the crowd he has a chance to speak to leaders of the protest and learn a great deal. Organizers said they would take Ige on a brief tour of the puuhonua, to “show him what kapu aloha looks like.”

As Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim watched from some distance away, Ige and Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Bill Aila listened to a chant from the afternoon crowd.

Ige was treated to a series of hula performances, and left shortly after 6:15 pm without making any further remarks to the crowd….

read … Ige makes first visit to Mauna Kea since TMT protests began

Dozens Of Astronomy Projects On Hold At Empty Observatories

CB:  … On Tuesday morning, a technical crew tried to get up Mauna Kea to perform maintenance on the Gemini observatory.

The observatory relies on gaseous helium to cool two instruments but the cooling system had become unstable. Technicians hoped to get up the mountain to shut down compressors and do other work to prevent damage to the instruments and cooling system.

But as they drove up the mountain, the crew was stopped by protesters who have set up camp at the base of Mauna Kea Access Road in an attempt to block construction of another observatory, the Thirty Meter Telescope.

A spokesman for the protesters said he told the car’s occupants that they’d be let through if the state allowed one car of cultural practitioners up the mountain to pray. The state didn’t agree. The technical crew drove away. It wasn’t until late Tuesday evening that two technicians were able to get up the mountain to fix the problem.

All kinds of work is not getting done at the Mauna Kea observatories since their staffs were evacuated last week. All scientific activities at the observatories have been suspended, throwing off dozens of scientific projects with global implications.….

“Mauna Kea is one of the most scientifically impactful sites on the planet,” says John O’Meara, chief scientist at W.M. Keck Observatory, one of several on the mountain. “We have very, very high-impact science that’s the kind of stuff that shows up in The New York Times next week that is not being done.”

O’Meara says Keck Observatory puts out the equivalent of one high-impact scientific paper per day. Some projects — known as programs — require decades. Others can be observed in an instant, but require vigilance. At a minimum there are at least two programs ongoing per night at Keck, one of more than a dozen observatories on the mountain….

“Even if we were losing one science project, that one science project could be the next Nobel Prize.”…

(But we will get 13 new ahus, so it works out for the better.)

read … Dozens Of Astronomy Projects Are On Hold At Empty Observatories

Anti-Telescope Protester Busted with Drugs, Gun, Butterfly Knife, Brass Knuckles

MN: … A driver who stopped a vehicle on the roadway in support of those protesting the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea was arrested Monday when a bolt-action rifle, ammunition and marijuana were found in the vehicle, police said.

Officers were monitoring the protesters who were waving signs on the makai side of Honoapiilani Highway near Kaanapali Parkway in Lahaina at about 6 p.m. when the southbound silver sport utility vehicle drove past the protesters, police said. The vehicle came to a complete stop, apparently attempting to force vehicles following it to stop in front of the protesters, police said.

The vehicle had a Hawaii flag affixed to its rear window and appeared to be supporting or participating in the protest by driving slowly past the sign-wavers, police said.

When officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle for impeding traffic and approached to make contact with the driver, officers saw three rounds of loose rifle ammunition in the open ashtray, police said.

The driver, a 19-year-old Wailuku man, was removed from the vehicle and gave permission for a search of the vehicle, police said. Police reported recovering an unloaded bolt-action rifle, six rounds of loose rifle ammunition, 20 rounds of secured rifle ammunition, a pair of brass knuckles, a butterfly knife and 40.7 grams of marijuana.

The driver was released pending further investigation…

read … Non Violent

Rotting in Prison, Criminal Al Hee Loses Again

L360:   Feds Win Toss Of Hawaii Telecom Co.'s Claim In $129M Fight:  A judge has tossed Hawaii-based telecom carrier Sandwich Isles Communications' counterclaims against the federal government for allegedly reducing services to Native Hawaiians, finding that the carrier defaulted on several federal loans….

read … Law 360

Maintain funding for Housing First

SA: … Last year, after the Legislature appropriated $30 million over a three-year period for the state’s “ohana zones” program — initially envisioned as government-sanctioned homeless camps — Gov. David Ige released a funding plan that widened the scope to include expanding emergency shelter space, renovating shelters and supporting permanent housing for the homeless.

The Ige administration has designated a $4.5 million slice to the city, which intends to use it to help provide case management services for clients who receive housing vouchers to live in 60 units under an expansion of the city’s Housing First program.

But now, with Honolulu Hale poised to accept the state money, two City Council members, Carol Fukunaga and Ann Koba­yashi, want to switch gears, maintaining that funding should instead be focused on providing medical services … for homeless individuals (so they will stay homeless)….

Their move has triggered a sort of double-check process — slated to get underway today before the Council Budget Committee — in which the intended use of the ohana zone funding is detailed, and the full Council votes on the matter. The Council should take the money and use it, as planned, for strengthening its ongoing Housing First effort….

Meanwhile: Sylvia Luke Blocks Program to Get Mentally Ill Homeless off Street

read … Maintain funding for Housing First

Geographic Exception Allows Switch to Better School

CB: … Last year, Kalani High School, one of Oahu’s best-regarded public schools, got more than 400 new students through a Department of Education program that allows them to transfer into schools outside their home district. Many came from nearby Kaimuki High School, accelerating a steep, decades-long enrollment decline at that campus.

Kalani drew the largest number of students statewide through what DOE calls geographic exceptions. The next largest draws were Moanalua High, Wilson Elementary and Roosevelt High on Oahu.

By contrast, Kaimuki High, Central Middle, Pahoa High & Intermediate on the Big Island and Kalihi Elementary lost the most prospective students through the geographic exception program….

The popularity of these transfers has surged — 20,015 of Hawaii’s 179,000 public school students, around 11% of the total enrollment in 2018-19 — have received geographic exceptions at some point. Parents may request a geographic exception for any number of reasons: a change in the child’s physical residence, a different school placement for a sibling, or parental employment at another school….

The standard application form for the GE allows parents to specify why they’re seeking such a transfer, including a desired program of study at a different school.

But even with those rules there is a perception among some families that the decision-making at each school is arbitrary and favors some kids over others.

That’s what led HawaiiKidsCAN, an education policy nonprofit, to unsuccessfully try and get a resolution introduced this year at the Legislature for a GE audit.

“Our interest in this topic came up when a person with knowledge of GE processes noted that she felt privileged families were getting an unfair advantage in the system, particularly when getting their kids into high performing public schools known for being feeders to private schools,” said David Miyashiro, the group’s executive director.…

(The rest of this article consists of a bunch of whining about school choice.)

read … Hawaii’s Shrinking Schools Raise Questions About Student Transfer Program

Waikiki councilman calls on city to suspend bulky item pilot in tourist district

HNN: … Waikiki’s newly elected councilman says illegal dumping has spiked dramatically since the city changed the way it collects oversized opala….

Junk littering the sidewalks is nothing new in Waikiki. But lately residents say the problem’s become even more of an eyesore.

“I go walking around and there’s bulky items everywhere,” said Waikiki resident Cheryl Nadler….

The city says prior to its pilot it were picking up 108 tons of bulky items in Waikiki every month. Now that number has plummeted to just 19 tons a month.The city says prior to its pilot it were picking up 108 tons of bulky items in Waikiki every month. Now that number has plummeted to just 19 tons a month….

He said, “We’ve been getting numerous complaints. And I’ve driven through Waikiki and seen piles and piles of garbage that has not been picked up.”

Another problem: some residents reported having to wait more than a month for an appointment to get rid of their bulky trash….

People with questions or complaints about the project are asked to call the city at 768-3200. There is also a survey on the project at

read … Waikiki councilman calls on city to suspend bulky item pilot in tourist district

Senate Allows Catholic to become Judge despite Hirono’s Bigotry

TB: … In a 51-40 party-line vote Wednesday afternoon, the Senate voted to confirm Brian Buescher as a federal district judge for the district of Nebraska after he faced scrutiny from Judiciary Committee Democrats late last year for his membership in a Catholic fraternal organization.

Buescher found himself at the middle of a national debate about religious intolerance late last year after he was questioned by Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) about his involvement with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.

"The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions," Hirono said in December noting the group's adherence to Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage. "If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?"

Before the vote, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska took to the Senate floor to defend Buescher and urge colleagues to vote in favor of confirmation….

Meanwhile: Muslim Hawaii Marine charged with communicating threats and weapons violations

read … A Catholic Becomes Judge

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