Ige Wins Lava Tube Award for ‘Extreme Anti-Transparency Measures’
HGEA Tells Schatz, Saiki: Unlike Teachers, 'We Never Quit'
Hawaii is the State Where Joblessness Has Skyrocketed
DHHL Selects Community Solar Developers
DHHL: Our Beneficiaries Do Not Support Proposed Gaming Legislation
Federally Dependent States-- Hawaii 33rd
$1.6B Federal Aid will repay COVID Borrowing and more
CB: … The breathtaking scope of the federal bailout of state government was on display Wednesday as House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke announced the state now has enough money to repay a $700 million unemployment insurance loan on behalf of Hawaii’s employers.
Luke also said in an interview she budgeted enough cash to repay another $750 million that Gov. David Ige borrowed last year to help cover state payroll and other operating costs, and said she expects to have some money left over to tuck away in the state’s “rainy day” budget reserve fund.
Luke presented the House draft of the state budget for the next two years at a Finance Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon.
In another surprise, Luke said in an interview the state will be able to make its scheduled payments for the next two years into the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust fund to cover future health care costs of state employees and retirees.
Ige had planned to defer those EUTF health benefit payments for five years to save about $1.85 billion, but Luke said Wednesday that won’t be necessary now….
Ige has said the state does not have enough money to repay that unemployment debt, but that was before Congress passed the American Rescue Plan. The new federal law provides $1.6 billion to shore up the state’s finances, prompting Luke to make plans to repay the unemployment debt.
Luke also said the proposed House budget would reverse the most alarming cuts that Ige had planned for some social service agencies, and will restore almost all of the planned cuts to the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system.
In fact, she noted that the federal bailout routed substantial sums directly to the DOE and the UH, which means their budgets should be made whole or more, she said. The DOE alone will receive $391 million in federal aid, she said….
Related: House Finance Committee Approves State Budget – with Amendments
read … House Spending Plan Fills State Budget Holes — And Then Some
COVID Justice: Judge orders suspect in ‘sex assault spree’ to jail – But Only After Deputy Prosecutor Attacked
HNN: … A serial sex assault suspect is behind bars after a judge made an exception to keep him from being released yet again.
Prosecutors say Randy Jacob, 37, went on a “sexual assault spree” over the last two weeks.
On Tuesday afternoon, city Prosecutor Steve Alm sent out a news release warning the public about Jacob because each time he was arrested for sex assault, judges would release him citing COVID rules.
The latest allegations stem from an assault of one of Alm’s own deputy prosecutors, who said Jacob allegedly put his hands down her clothes Tuesday.
Jacob was chased, but got away.
Shortly after the news release was issued, Jacob was arrested again.
And on Wednesday, a judge deemed him a “textbook example of an exception to Supreme Court order” on COVID. He is being held with a $500 bail until his next hearing….
(This only happens when the soft-on-crime crowd is personally attacked by one of the criminals they release.)
SA: Serial sex assault suspect in custody after incident
KHON: More questions raised on sex assault suspect who kept getting released
read … In exception to rule, judge orders suspect in ‘sex assault spree’ to jail
Consider Shifting Police Funds To Social Services, Police Commission Says
CB: … Behavioral health calls make up 10% to 30% of HPD’s call volume, according to the department…..
read … Consider Shifting Police Funds To Social Services, Police Commission Says
Rickard to serve as acting Maui police chief
MN: … Deputy Police Chief Dean Rickard will serve as acting police chief while a search gets underway for a new chief to replace Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu, who is retiring at the end of next month.
At a Maui Police Commission meeting by videoconference Wednesday, Chairman Frank De Rego said commission rules call for the deputy chief to step in while the commission looks for a new chief.
Faaumu, whose last day as chief will be April 30, said he had a lengthy conversation with Rickard.
“I was hoping he would run for chief, but he’s not going to run,” Faaumu said. “But he will stay on with the department to transition the department through the next administration.”
He said Rickard, a veteran of more than 33 years with the Maui Police Department, is looking at retiring at the end of the year….
read … Rickard to serve as acting police chief
Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption From Political Ad Disclosures
CB: … The public could have less transparency in elections and less insight into what political advertisements candidates are paying for under a pair of measures moving through the Hawaii Legislature.
House Bill 144 and House Bill 674 would exempt candidates for office from filing reports on ads with the state. That 20-year-old law was intended to shine a light on how much money candidates and super PACs are spending on ads during election season to sway voters.
Wording in the ad reporting law has confounded some campaigns and led to significant fines in recent years.
The agency in charge of regulating campaign finance has tried to introduce fixes this session. But now, that agency warns that the proposed candidate exemptions would erode scrutiny of campaigns.….
SA: SB597--Hawaii moves to allow campaign funds to be used for child care
read … Hawaii Lawmakers Seek Exemption From Political Ad Disclosures
Lawmaker to undergo investigation for conflicting alleged drunk driving accounts
HNN: … House Speaker Scott Saiki will create a special committee to investigate the alleged conduct of state Rep. Sharon Har.
Har was arrested on Feb. 22 after officers spotted her driving the wrong way in the center lane of Beretania Street near Piikoi Street. Police said the 52-year-old lawmaker smelled of alcohol but she declined to take a field sobriety test.
Two days after her arrest, Har apologized to her colleagues on the House floor, saying that a codeine medication contributed to her erratic driving.
But, police body camera video later showed that Har had told officers that she was not sick and was not taking medication.
“The apology and statements made afterwards didn’t seem to match up with the pictures and the voice recordings,” said Mike Golojuch Sr., who asked the House to investigate Har.
Golojuch -- a constituent in Har’s district and whose son has run against Har -- also cited Har’s refusal to be tested for alcohol.
The special House Committee will now looking into Har’s conflicting accounts and -- depending on its findings -- could recommend disciplinary action….
CB: Special House Committee Will Investigate Hawaii Lawmaker’s DUI Arrest
read … Lawmaker to undergo investigation for conflicting alleged drunk driving accounts
Delays Begin: Aloha Stadium won’t be torn down just yet
SA: … Even with University of Hawaii football no longer in the picture for stadium use in 2021, the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District will wait until sometime in 2022 before it begins tearing down the current facility, a NASED official said.
There had been wide speculation and discussion that with UH out of the way, that demolition process might be sped up.
“Our current plan is to wait until the stadium developer is selected (and) we expect to award a contract for the stadium developer by the end of quarter one, 2022,” Chris Kinimaka, Public Works Administrator for the Department of Accounting and General Services, said in response to questions from the Star-Advertiser….
read … Aloha Stadium won’t be torn down just yet
Honolulu City Council advances measure to incentivize building affordable rental units
SA: … The Honolulu City Council advanced a measure that aims to increase affordable rental housing by offering financial grants to private developers.
Bill 1 was introduced by Council Chairman Tommy Waters at the request of Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who was present at Wednesday’s full Council meeting.
Blangiardi spoke in support of the measure, which is part of his plan to expand affordable housing….
For developments renting to households above 60% of the average median income, the incentive would be $11.25 per square foot of living space in the building permit, but would not exceed $9,000.
For developments renting to households below 60% of the average median income, the incentive would be $15 per square foot of living space in the building permit, but would not exceed $15,000.
The bill also limits the total amount of grant money offered from the program to $10 million…..
Over 31 applicants have already applied, according to Council member Calvin Say.
“I just hope that DPP would facilitate their permitting process,” he said. “You have to finish the project, or your development, before you can even qualify for the grant.”
The grant would only be paid to the owner of the affordable rental property after being issued a certificate of occupancy for the project.
Council member Andria Tupola recommended that DPP Director Dean Uchida set a goal for the number of permits to be issued for the project, which would end in three years.
“I would hate to see it get caught up. And then at the end of the three years, we sunset and only a few projects have been approved,” she said.
The bill is expected to be discussed further in the Housing and the Economy committee, which is next scheduled to meet April 20.
read … Honolulu City Council advances measure to incentivize building affordable rental units
Resolutions urge BOE to consider Hawaii residents for superintendent’s post
HTH: … The search for a new public schools superintendent will begin soon, and some legislators want the state Board of Education to consider Hawaii residents and Department of Education employees for the position.
House Resolution 129 and House Concurrent Resolution 153 urge the BOE to consider Hawaii residents and applicants from the public school system “as part of the qualified candidate pool” to serve as superintendent….
“We need someone who can engender trust from our educators, from our administrators, from our parents, and I think realistically it’s going to be very hard to gain that trust if you’re coming from the mainland and stepping right into the job.” …
Both resolutions, which are nonbinding, will be heard at 2 p.m. today by the House Education Committee.
Additionally, the BOE will have a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. today to consider establishing a committee tasked with investigating issues related to the superintendent search.
read … Resolutions urge BOE to consider Hawaii residents for superintendent’s post
Bail reduced for former DOE instructor charged with 5 counts of sex assault on a student
KHON: … Victor Aguilar's bail was previously set at $1 million, but the court granted the motion for bail reduction, lowering it to $250,000. …
read … Bail reduced for former DOE instructor
Watchdog blames NOAA for lack of transparency on tsunami tracking system outage
HNN: … There are new allegations that the staff at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was told to keep quiet about an outage of a key data system that had been down for days.
On Tuesday, Hawaii News Now reported the crucial tsunami detection system known as DART experienced an outage earlier this month from March 9 until the 15th.
It was caused when a broken water pipe in NOAA’s Maryland headquarters knocked out the program’s servers, according to federal officials….
Although the outage made tracking any potential tsunamis difficult, it wouldn’t be completely impossible given data from other areas around the Pacific. Leading tsunami experts report to the LA Times that without rapid data from the network, scientists would likely have struggled to pinpoint tsunami impacts….
Read the original report: PTWC: Key tsunami warning system offline for days, hindering ability to retrieve critical data
SA: Tsunami warning system is restored
read … Watchdog blames NOAA for lack of transparency on tsunami tracking system outage
Kahuku Windfarm Appeals to be heard by Hawaii Supreme Court
IM: … The wind farm is built but not yet operational due to legal actions.
The Hawai`i Supreme Court will livestream the first oral arguments on Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 2 p.m. (YouTube.com/hawaiicourts) in a case involving the Na Pua Makani Kahuku windfarm.
The appeal -- Keep the North Shore Country vs. Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) -- arises from the BLNR decision to approve the Na Pua Makani Power Partners, LLC’s application for a habitat conservation plan and incidental take license that would allow NPM to take up to 51 ‘ōpe‘ape‘a, or Hawaiian hoary bats, over 21 years.
Keep the North Shore Country challenged Na Pua Makani’s habitat conservation plan application in a contested case hearing before the BLNR. During the proceedings, Keep the North Shore Country objected to BLNR member Samuel ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon III’s participation in the contested case hearing. The BLNR did not disqualify Gon and approved the habitat conservation plan.
Keep the North Shore Country is represented by attorneys Lance Collins and Bianca Isaki.
The Hawai`i Supreme Court will livestream oral arguments in a second appeal on May 7, 2021, involving Life of the Land`s appeal.
Life of the Land filed a motion with the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission on September 11, 2019, requesting that the Commission void its approval of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) because Na Pua Makani failed to meet the required conditions of the PPA such as timely site control. …
read … Hawai`i Supreme Court Will Hold 2 Oral Arguments in 2 Na Pua Makani Appeals
Relics Of Sugar’s Past, Hawaii Dams Will Take Years To Fix Or Remove
CB: … Hawaii has 131 state-regulated dams. Kaupakaula was one of 120 that were labeled as having “high hazard potential,” meaning “failure or misoperation will probably cause loss of human life,” federal data updated in 2019 shows. Four others are listed as “significant,” which means failure could cause economic loss, environmental damage and other disruptions but likely not death.
State documents show that 68 of the dams had documented problems ranging from “abandoned conditions” to undersized spillways. Kaupakaula was one of nine that were so bad they received notices of deficiencies last year. At least 33 dams are required to be kept empty, meaning they are not actively used….
a report by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials found that 76% of the high-hazard potential dams in Hawaii were found to be in poor condition.
“That is very high in comparison to most states,” said Mark Ogden, a dam safety engineer and state outreach specialist with the association. “The fact that there are a significant number of dams that are rated as either poor or unsatisfactory is a concern.”
Nearly 70% are owned privately and have ties to sugar or pineapple farming. Top owners of Hawaii’s dams, according to the most recent data, included Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. with 22 of the 23 dams it owns being listed as potentially high-hazard…..
KITV: Here's how you can help flood victims around the state
read … Relics Of Sugar’s Past, Hawaii Dams Will Take Years To Fix Or Remove
The history of Hansen’s disease reminds that pandemics change us
WaPo: …The longest and most severe medical quarantine in modern history began in Hawaii in 1866 and ended over a century later in 1969. The Hawaii Board of Health segregated about 8,000 people with the chronic and debilitating bacterial disease called Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy). People were separated from their families and exiled for the rest of their lives to an isolated settlement on the island of Molokai….
(The rest of the article a fake history re-written to accommodate identity politics.)
read … The history of Hansen’s disease reminds that pandemics change us
Corona Virus News: