Rail: Feds Urged to be Skeptical of HART 'Recovery Plan'
The Hawaiʻi State Public Charter School Commission Approves Two New Charter Schools
‘Essentially Erase Women’: Tulsi Gabbard Slams Biden Admin’s Overhaul of Title IX
Honolulu DPP: ‘Robotic tech and artificial intelligence’ will process building permits
KITV: … For years, Oahu residents and developers have complained over the months, and sometimes year-long wait to secure a building permit.
Dean Uchida, head of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, promised to roll out sweeping changes at the agency to expedite the permitting process.
DPP currently operates with a 25% staff shortage, but Uchida said the department plans to take on 160 new workers over the next few years, after it received approval and funding from city leaders to fill its 80 vacancies, and create 80 additional new positions.
Uchida also reported DPP is working on replacing an outdated and obsolete application system that has been in place since 1998, and now cannot handle the 20,000 submissions the agency receives each year….
About 10 years ago, the department started a third-party review process to help speed up permitting. An applicant contracts a certified reviewer to ensure its plans meet city codes, so DPP does not have to do it with its limited staff.
"There is no documentation that I am aware of on why the decision was made to go the third-party route. From discussions with the staff, the issue at the time seems to have been budget constraints that limited the department’s ability to add more staff," Uchida explained. "The third-party program was a way to allow for the review of plans for code compliance but shift the cost to the applicant."
But the third-party review process had not been audited until Uchida was installed as DPP head in 2021.
"What we found, surprisingly, was that 100% of the electrical plans failed," Uchida said. "That's like public health and safety, so we kind of freaked out and started to take a more active role in looking at all the third-party review plans coming in, to the point where we started auditing every one of them."
The auditing process, however, prolonged the permitting delays. So, DPP began random reviews, and Uchida plans to suspend them in July….
Meantime, Uchida plans to roll out the new Artificial Intelligence and robotic technology by the end of summer, and hopes to have the new application system in place by the end of the year….
read … Honolulu planning head outlines sweeping operational changes to expedite building permit process
Massive Spill Dumping 25 Million Gallons Per Day of Sewage along Ewa Beach Coastline
HNN: … The health department’s Clean Water Branch says an operational issue at the Honouliuli Treatment plant is causing wastewater to being released about a mile offshore.
Elevated fecal bacteria is left floating all along that coast.
The state said the sewage plant is pumping up to 25 million gallons a day of untreated wastewater into the ocean.
There is no word on how long the contamination could last.
The Honouliuli facility has a history of discharging sewage resulting in a consent decree in 2020 requiring the city to fix numerous violations….
KHON: City: Ewa beaches safe after fecal bacteria found in water
SA: Elevated bacteria levels found in Mamala Bay area
News Release: Honouliuli WWTP effluent exceedance
read … Public advised to avoid waters along Ewa coastline due to wastewater discharge
Public Utilities Commission rejects Big Isle tree-burning plant (again)
SA: … In its denial, the commission said the project would result in significant greenhouse gas emissions, and it called the plan to sequester carbon speculative and reliant on “assumptions and unsupported assertions.”
Commissioner Leodoloff Asuncion abstained from signing the order issued today, one month after filing a 20-page dissent in opposition to the May 23 decision, arguing that Honua Ola had indeed met its burden for approval based on requirements established by the Supreme Court….
HTH: Latest Honua Ola denial likely headed to state Supreme Court
CB: Commission Again Rejects Hu Honua Biomass Plant
read … Public Utilities Commission rejects Big Isle tree-burning plant again
Where the frivolity never ends
ILind: … Undeterred by previous court rulings that their arguments are frivolous, two people claiming ownership a plot of land in a Kunia agricultural subdivision “by heirdom” went back to court on Thursday seeking to disqualify a state court judge because he ruled against them.
The “Motion for Recusal,” filed in Honolulu’s First Circuit Court at 1:56 pm by Travis Thomas Mokiao and Kaiulani Mokiao, demands the “immediate disqualificiation” and recusal of Circuit Court Judge James McWhinnie, who previously ruled in favor of the landowner, Guyland LLC, and on June 15 rejected attempts to delay execution of a “Writ of Possession” he had already approved.
This latest motion came just one day after police backed down and failed to enforce a court order directing them to remove the group the group and their possessions. Since they took control of the area more than nine months ago, they have expanded the site from five to thirty acres.
In their recusal motion, the two merely rehash discredited claims that have already been ruled against multiple times….
read … Where the frivolity never ends
Honolulu County gauges interest for private activity bond program
PBN: … The City and County of Honolulu is looking to again become an issuer of tax-exempt special revenue bonds, or private activity bonds (PAB), following a 23-year absence, and is gauging interest for the program.
According to a recent announcement, the city is seeking "expressions of interest" for its approximately $120 million PAB volume, which is a preliminary step to understand the demand for private activity bonds.
The private activity bonds program is available to developers whose projects have at least 20% of the total units targeted to households earning 50% or less of the area median income, or a minimum of 40% of units set aside to households earning 60% or less of the AMI, city officials said in a recent announcement.
"The Multi-Family Rental Housing Program is designed to provide financing to developers of residential rental projects at interest rates and on terms more favorable than those available from conventional sources of financing," the City's PAB website explains. "The City obtains the funds for these below-market interest rate loans by issuing municipal bonds which are purchased by private investors." …
read … Honolulu County gauges interest for private activity bond program
Trial continues in Hawaii inmate beating, cover-up
SA: … A former corrections officer took the stand Thursday on the second day of a federal jury trial of three former state corrections officers charged in the June 15, 2015, attack on an inmate at Hawaii Community Correctional Center, and its cover-up.
Jordan DeMattos testified for the government against Jason Tagaloa, Craig Pinkney and Jonathan Taum, saying the four were at a July 2015 meeting at Taum’s home in which Taum coached them as to what to say when investigators questioned them.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan presented as evidence of the alleged conspiracy to obstruct justice a clip of a cellphone video of that meeting showing the four watching a surveillance video of themselves in the early morning assault against Chawn Kaili in the Hilo jail’s recreation yard.
DeMattos testified that during the attack, Taum directed the blows, telling Tagaloa to aim for “a different part of the body other than the head.”….
DeMattos said the cellphone video shows Taum at the meeting standing near a television, repeatedly playing the video of the attack.
He instructed the three to say every strike they were trained to use didn’t work, so they used untrained strikes. “It was to cover up,” DeMattos said.
DeMattos said Taum later changed his tune. “I couldn’t say that he instructed the strikes,” he said.
DeMattos admitted to lying on report forms, repeating the same lies and that the inmate became aggressive, “hands were balled up in fists” and refused to obey commands….
The three allegedly punched and kicked the inmate 49 times, 17 punches to the head, 26 punches to the body, a kick to the head and five kicks to the body, because he refused to be handcuffed. He was pinned facedown on the pavement, lying in a pool of blood, then taken to the cell where Tagaloa allegedly punched him in the head and he lost consciousness….
read … Trial continues in Hawaii inmate beating, cover-up