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Thursday, October 6, 2022
October 6, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:20 PM :: 2353 Views

HVCB and CNHA "have found a way forward in partnership"

Hawaii’s all-mail voting system a barrier for unhoused, non-English speakers

Hawaii 5th-Worst State Finances

Red Hill Defueling Could Take from Four Months to 30 Days, Says New Plan

Hawaii 2nd Highest Benefit from Food Stamps

Exemptions to open-records law should favor disclosure, not secrecy

Meet the Honolulu CC & Kapiolani CC chancellor finalists

Liquor control retaliation: “Still at where we’ve been forever”

HNN: … The Honolulu Liquor Commission was accused of ignoring a culture of retaliation Wednesday as the City Council called on the commission to find ways to restore the public trust.

The commission has been accused of discrimination against LGBTQ businesses and retaliation against others who complained about liquor inspectors.

Commission’s interim Chair Malama Minn defended the agency.

“I found that it’s just a very small handful of people that are not happy with the commission and for a number of different reasons most of them being personal in nature and I don’t believe that constitutes the public,” Minn said, gesturing air quotes when she said the word “public.” …

Robbie Baldwin, owner of Scarlet Nightclub, said Minn’s testimony was “preposterous.”

“The reason that no one’s willing to speak on the record is because of their crazy retaliation,” Baldwin said. “They are just presenting a picture that is completely untrue.”

Windward Councilmember Esther Kiaaina, who introduced the resolution with Chairperson Tommy Waters, said she had personally heard from restaurant and bar owners who feared retaliation.

“This fear that restaurant and bar owners have is that if they ever say anything that they are going to be harassed or retaliated against and I want you to understand that fear is real,” Kiaaina said….

The acting administrator of the agency, Anna Hirai, was less vigorous in her defense.

But she explained that in recent months the commission lost its chair, chief inspector and top administrator. She said lack of training, low salaries and union contracts that limit advancement create a revolving door.

She also said 42%t of staff positions are vacant despite the issues being apparent for years.

“Obviously we are still at where we’ve been forever,” Hirai conceded.

City Managing Director Mike Formby pointed to the recent appointment of businessman and civil rights advocate Jeffrey Hong, and said the administration believed a strong commission was the best way to move the agency forward….

read … Liquor control executives deny culture of retaliation, calling allegations ‘baseless’

Hawaii’s New Era Of Tourism Inspired by Surf Gangsters

UP: … the closure of popular beaches for “Locals Days,” and bringing in fewer visitors (at higher dollar amounts)…

“Is it possible to move to Hawaii and not be an asshole?”

The resounding answer was “no.” And it’s similar to answers I’ve gotten from surfers on Oahu’s North Shore over the years. Though its leader, Eddie Rothman, was born in Philly, not Oahu, the famed surf crew (and clothing label) Da Hui has been pulling people’s cards on the North Shore for decades.

As the conversation about Hawaiian tourism evolves, it’s sure to intersect at every stage with the push for sovereignty in Hawaii — where much of the Indigenous population has very valid and serious concerns about… well, their complete eradication, really. Tourists hoping to visit the island in a way that is conscientious will need to take the lead of organizations like ‘Āina Momona and follow the definitions of and requests for cultural respect….

Will some visitors decide not to visit after contemplating the issues at stake? Absolutely. And that is how Indigenous Hawaiians want it…..

read … Hawaii’s New Era Of Tourism Will Be A Model For Destinations Far And Wide

City Council clears the way for highrise developments around key rail stops

HNN: … The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday cleared the way for major highrise redevelopment of neighborhoods around the Pearl Ridge and Pearl Highlands shopping centers.

The council voted to up-zone the areas near rail transit stops, allowing high rises of 250 feet near the Pearl Highlands Center and 350 feet near Pearlridge.

The owners of Pearlridge already have plans for a high-rise development….The proposal passed unanimously….

read … City Council clears the way for highrise developments around key rail stops

Maui County Fund would take 20% of TAT to over costs of so-called ‘managed retreat’

MN: … The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday afternoon voted 5-1 to recommend a bill that would create a managed retreat revolving fund….

The funding pool is proposed to contain 20 percent of the transient accommodations tax fund — the fees levied on visitor lodging — which is projected to have about $60 million total for fiscal year 2023, and would be used for “shoreline safety improvements.”…

“At the time when these properties start to go underwater, the assessed value is going to go down to nearly zero and everybody is going to need help, so we’ll have way more expenditures and way less revenue, so that’s the idea behind creating a managed retreat revolving fund, so we can start addressing the issues as they arise and possibly save up as time goes by,” she said. “The managed retreat issue is creeping up on us fast.”

In response to feedback by the public, Paltin made it clear during Wednesday’s meeting that the fund is not intended to be “a bailout for wealthy coastal landowners.”

“It’s to address the public health and safety impacts,” she said.

Priority would be given to projects involving, firstly:

• Removal or relocation of county-owned structures and infrastructure that pose a threat to public health or the environment.

• Removal of structurally compromised or abandoned structures that pose an imminent threat.

• Removal, relocation or safety improvements to county-owned structures.

• Assisting in the facilitation of permitting to remove privately owned structures.

• Other related county or privately owned projects.

The proposed revolving fund would be administered by the county Department of Management.

Monies from the special management area revolving fund, which is only fueled by fines and application fees, can also address coastal realignment, shoreline management, dune restoration or managed retreat, Planning Director Michele McLean said.

Still, Paltin would rather have a separate and secure fund, supported by the TAT, to address specific managed retreat purposes.

“I like the idea of having two separate accounts,” said Council Member Tasha Kama, who holds the Kahului seat. “We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but whatever happens tomorrow, at least we’ll know that we have the funds available to take care of it.”

Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura voted against the bill, saying that 20 percent of the TAT fund is too much and that the bill is premature, noting that there needs to be a comprehensive countywide managed retreat strategy and program first.

She suggested dropping the portion down to 5 percent.

“We need to have a bigger plan before we start setting aside money that would then be used for something that we don’t know the details of,” said Sugimura, who holds the Upcountry seat. “There are so many uses that are needed for the TAT funds. … I hate to set aside this without knowing what other emergencies that may (arise).”

Council Chairperson Alice Lee agreed with Sugimura that the funding could be better used “elsewhere,” but ended up voting in favor of the managed retreat revolving fund in order to move the item forward — the bill would have otherwise died because there were not enough voting members present.

“I’m not so much against it, I just feel that 20 percent is too high,” said Lee, who holds the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu seat…..

Paltin: In Kahana, nine condominium complexes are imminently threatened, and another building was deemed uninhabitable because of increasing coastal erosion

REALITY: Politics, panic distort sea level rise issue

read … Fund would cover costs of managed retreat

Kaua‘i council uses sea-level rise as Excuse to Make Home Construction More Expensive

TGI: … Bill No. 2879, which passed second reading Wednesday, requires the lowest floor of any new dwellings in the Sea Level Rise Constraint District be raised 2 feet above the highest sea level rise flood elevation as projected by a scientific model. New, non-livable buildings need to be raised 1 foot above the flood elevation projection. This differs from other sea level rise regulations, which tend to rely on historical data rather than future models….

The regulations also apply to significant rebuilds of existing structures, where the total cost equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building….

REALITY: Politics, panic distort sea level rise issue

read … Kaua‘i council approves first-of-its-kind sea level rise bill

Taxpayers will fund legal defense for officers accused of chasing car that crashed, failing to render aid

HNN: … The commissioners voted Wednesday, with four approving the request for taxpayer-funded attorneys. The other three voted against it.

It’s an issue they’ve discussed for weeks and Commissioner Richard Parry said he struggled with it.

“There’s just lots of evidence. I would say a preponderance of evidence, that suggests this was not done in performance of their duties,” Parry said.

Parry, Commission Chair Shannon Alivado and member Ann Botticelli were the three against it.

Commissioners Doug Chin, Carrie Okinaga, Kenneth Silva, and Jerry Gibson voted in favor.

Some of the evidence Parry described included body camera videos and bus video of the alleged chase….

read … Taxpayers will fund legal defense for officers accused of chasing car that crashed, failing to render aid

Hawaii island police officer charged after alleged domestic dispute

SA: … HPD said a 28-year-old woman on Tuesday reported to police that she and Chiquita, who had been involved in a long-term relationship and have children together, were in an argument Saturday afternoon that allegedly turned physical.

The woman was not injured during the altercation, but HPD said she reported “feeling pain.”

Chiquita was arrested at a Puna residence this afternoon. His bail was set at $1,000.

Chiquita was hired by HPD in June last year and is currently within an 18-month new hire probationary period, the police department said. He has been placed on leave without pay pending the completion of an administrative investigation by HPD’s Office of Professional Standards….

read … Hawaii island police officer charged after alleged domestic dispute

Lets Play Make Believe: Standards Commission Proposes Term Limits For Hawaii Lawmakers

CB: … A measure that would impose a 16-year term limit on service for state legislators narrowly cleared the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct Wednesday even as members who wrote the proposal raised concerns over possible negative impacts on policymaking in Hawaii.

(Yes.  They are actually suggesting that the legislature could get worse.  Wow.  Just wow.)

The proposed bill won approval on a 4-to-3 vote of the commission members. Nikos Leverenz, Ethics Commission Director Robert Harris and Janet Mason voted “no.” Retired Judge Dan Foley, the commission chairman, former lawmaker Barbara Marumoto, Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Flo Nakakuni voted “yes.”

The measure still needs to clear the Legislature next year…

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

… and to be approved by a majority of voters the year after that.

Campaign Spending Commission Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao broke a tie and voted yes, saying she did so “only because I think we owe it to the public to move it forward and hear what people have to say about this. If it dies, it dies.” …

read … Reluctant Standards Commission Proposes Term Limits For Hawaii Lawmakers

UH-Hilo enrollment dips again

HTH: … Enrollment for the University of Hawaii at Hilo declined again this year by 8.2%.  Total enrollment for Fall 2022 is listed at 2,977 students, or 266 fewer than those enrolled in Fall 2021….

read … UH-Hilo enrollment dips again

Strive-HI: Embarrassing DoE Failure Numbers Due out next week

SA Editorial: … In about a week, the department is due for the annual report from its Strive HI Performance System, which will encompass the full range of data, from attendance to graduation rates and academic achievement.

Meanwhile, Tammi Oyadomari-Chun, the DOE’s newly named deputy superintendent of strategy, already has the initial count of “chronically absent” students at about 2,000, or 1.4% of the state’s enrollment total. That was based on the enrolled students who missed 15 or more days of school in the first month of this school year.

At that point, she said, teams of school principals and officials at district complexes work to find the students and, if their parents or guardians haven’t made alternative schooling arrangements, bring them back to campus.

This absenteeism problem was even more acute during the spotty in-person instruction of 2021-22. COVID-19 protocols were much more strict when vaccinations for youth were not available and frequent quarantines were imposed.

During that time, on average, 37% of students were out of school; the proportion of off-campus elementary students was even higher, at a whopping 41% — with those in grades K-2 especially high, Oyadomari-Chun said. Reasons for absence ranged from illness or quarantine to attendance at another school.

Absences had been disproportionately common among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders — also the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19, Oyadomari- Chun said.

Even with near-normal school schedules now resuming, a measurable drop in enrollment has persisted. Much of this is due to falling birth rates, as well as military families and others staying in Hawaii during the pandemic and then relocating, she added….

read … Get students back on academic track

Hawaii Veterans Say VA Bureaucracy Is Hampering Access To Health Care

CB: … The visiting Veterans Affairs secretary outlined plans for improvements ….

SA: Veterans Affairs secretary says staff shortages are being addressed to better serve Hawaii’s veterans

read … Hawaii Veterans Say VA Bureaucracy Is Hampering Access To Health Care

Patient care at risk as nursing homes struggle with staffing shortages

KITV: … "We couldn't figure out why she was scared until probably a couple of weeks in. She was messing herself overnight and nobody would come and help her clean up or change her bedding or anything," said her son-in-law Lance Ling. "And we would find her in the morning with with her mess still there and it's all kind of drying up."

Health care workers have sounded the alarm about severe staffing shortages and now families say patients are suffering the consequences at nursing homes like this.

"I don't think there's enough...people to help," said Ferreira, 86. "They just don't have enough time."

In a statement, Avalon Care Center Administrator Ka'iulani Ka'alekahi says the 'unprecedented staffing shortages in Hawaii' is challenging. She says the facility does have adequate staff to safely care for residents, which is the top priority.

But the Hawaii Nurses Association told KITV4 because of the workforce shortages, long-term care facilities are mandating double shifts, causing burnout and driving out staff….

read … Patient care at risk as nursing homes struggle with staffing shortages

Hawaii reports 1,273 COVID cases, 8 deaths

KHON: … There are 910 coronavirus cases on Oahu, 109 on the Big Island, 90 on Kauai, 121 on Maui, three on Lanai, four on Molokai and 36 diagnosed out of state….

As of Oct. 3, the state reports 77.7% of vaccinated residents.

Here is an in-depth weekly COVID case breakdown from the DOH’s website….

KITV: Honolulu, Maui counties bumped back up into 'medium' COVID-19 threat level, CDC reports

SA: New booster shots urged as Hawaii case counts plateau

read … Hawaii reports 1,273 COVID cases, 8 deaths

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