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Thursday, September 29, 2016
September 29, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 PM :: 1784 Views

Are You Going to Stand for This?

Make Loud Noise

Feds Propose 49 New Endangered Species for Hawaii

Tax Cut Improves Hawaii Business Climate

Parts of the rail guideway are cracking and snapping

SA: Parts of the rail guideway are cracking and snapping even before the first stretch is finished, and money-saving efforts may be behind the problem, new reports show.

Workers haven’t yet finished building rail’s first 11 miles of elevated path across West and Central Oahu, but the transit project is already showing defects in key components along the concrete guideway.

Years before any trains will carry commuters across the island, cracks are forming in the plastic padding used to give the train tracks a level surface, and strands in three of the tendons that help keep the guideway structure in place have snapped apart, according to reports issued by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and the rail project’s federal oversight agency.

So far, only a small fraction of the metal strands running through the guideway and the so-called plastic “shims” that keep the tracks level have been reported damaged. But rail and construction officials are still working to confirm the root causes of both problems. It remains to be seen how much all the replacement parts and any work to avoid further damage will cost — and who will pay for it.

The latest snafus emerge publicly as HART and Kiewit Infrastructure West, the firm that’s building rail’s first 10 miles, acrimoniously spar in private over tens of millions of dollars in change orders, according to former project consultants with knowledge of the situation.

The HART board is slated to discuss the damage issues at its meeting today, the first to feature Mike Formby in the capacity of the agency’s acting executive director instead of as one of its most outspoken board members. Formby and board Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa, who helped bring about former Executive Director Dan Grabauskas’ resignation, are both poised to exit HART before the Nov. 8 general election.

HART representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment….

Background: HART Whistleblower: Sinking Columns, Cracked Welds, Useless Designs, and Structural Failures

read … Cracks exposed in rail materials

Djou to Debate Caldwell Today

City measure would require even thicker plastic bags

SA: Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante said Wednesday he wants to revisit the city’s plastic bag ban with a new bill that he says will make it more difficult for retailers to hand out “reusable” plastic bags.

“Our current law doesn’t go far enough in terms of having a paradigm shift or change in customers’ mindsets to reduce, reuse and recycle in the sense that they bring their own cloth bags or recyclable bags to the store and (in turn) reduce the amount of plastic type of waste that could potentially be out there harming our environment,” Elefante said Wednesday.

Bill 59, which will get its first public airing at Wednesday’s City Council meeting in Kapolei, would change the existing plastic bag ban by:

>> Making it illegal to distribute so-called “compostable” plastic bags at the checkout counter.

>> Requiring so-called “reusable” plastic bags be at least 3 mils (3/1,000 of an inch) thick, rather than the 2.25 mils now allowed.

Maui and Hawaii counties require that reusable bags be at least 3 mils, Elefante said, and the Honolulu measure would allow Oahu retailers that option if they want to continue to provide customers with such bags.

As is the case today, the bill would still allow for businesses to hand out plastic bags of all types to protect or transport prepared foods, beverages, bakery goods, newspapers, live fish and other specific items.

read … Bag ban Idiocy

Affordable Housing to be Excuse for Billion Dollar Tax Hike?

CB: The voter homeowner only needs to agree to two of the four points I’ve discussed at this time to have an impact:

Allow a modest housing levy and

Repurpose some agricultural or conservation land for housing (this measure is also income-generating for a fund).

Giving up land is difficult from an environmental stand point, but a levy would have to be three to four times as large if you had to buy entitled land. A more robust inclusionary housing program and regulatory reform will take more time.

I estimate it will take $1 billion over the next five years to help alleviate our housing crisis and reduce the number of homeless throughout our state. This is one-eighth of what the rail system in Honolulu is costing which is supposed to provide affordable housing, which it will not without a housing levy fund to subsidize the units.

read … Unaffordable Tax Hike

After Running Down the Clock, Crony-Laden Ethics Board to Hear Kenoi complaint in November

HTH: The county Board of Ethics in November will hear a complaint that Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of a county-issued credit card violated the Code of Ethics.

The board has deferred the complaint against the mayor for various reasons since its filing in 2015. It’s now on the agenda for a meeting Nov. 9 — a month after the mayor’s criminal trial in connection with his misuse of a purchasing card, or pCard, starts and a month before the term-limited Kenoi leaves office….

The man who filed the ethics complaint against the mayor, Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland, is criticizing the board for delaying consideration of the complaint and calling for the board’s members to resign.

Hyland filed the complaint against Kenoi in April 2015, but in May the board deferred the matter for a year pending the disposition of the state’s investigation into the criminal allegations.

The board considered bringing up the matter during a meeting in May this year, but ended up passing on it. The board deferred the matter once again in July. Previously, the board was forced to cancel several meetings because it lacked a quorum to legally conduct business.

During the July meeting, Richard Sing, one of Kenoi’s attorneys, asked the board to delay moving forward with the complaint until after the trial finishes. Kenoi leaves office in December.

Hyland said by postponing a hearing for the complaint this close to the end of the mayor’s term, any decision is effectively meaningless.

He said he’s concerned once Kenoi leaves office, the board will lose any jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The Nov. 9 meeting, an “informal hearing” according to the notice informing parties of the meeting, will take place in council chambers at the Hawaii County Building in Hilo. The board also is working to find a teleconference location in Kohala.

Informal hearings allow the board to hear testimony from those involved as well as from any witnesses or review any evidence in the matter. Once the investigation is finished, the board will issue its advisory opinion.

read … Ethics Board to hear Kenoi complaint in November

Hawaii Candidates Are Getting Flooded With Surveys This Year

CB: As special interest groups, labor unions and the media try to nail them down on issues, office-seekers decide which ones to respond to.

read … Nailed Down in Private

HPD Secrets: What Happens When A Cop Goes On Desk Duty?

CB: Civil Beat decided to check out the Honolulu Police Departments policy on desk duty but that has proven surprisingly difficult because the HPD redacted large portions of the policy….

There have been a lot of questions about how this policy applies to the chief.

Honolulu Police Commissioner Loretta Sheehan recently grilled Kealoha about HPD’s ROPA policy. She also pressed him on news that the U.S. Department of Justice had begun issuing target letters to suspects as part of its criminal probe into the Kealohas.

Target letters inform recipients that they could be facing criminal charges.

Specifically, Sheehan wanted to know if any of the officers had been ROPA’d as a result of receiving a target letter. She also wanted to know what the chief would do should he receive a letter himself.

“I haven’t approached that yet,” he told her….

read … Secrets

HPD: 50 Illegal Gaming Rooms on Oahu

KITV: …Cutie's café remains locked up, following the fatal shooting on Saturday.
While the deadly violence may have been unexpected, the illegal gambling that went on there was well known.

According to court record, an HPD detective states:
"Cutie's Café is an establishment that is know to conduct illegal gaming activities."

But it not alone, according to  Chinatown Business & Community Association President Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock who has been telling police for years about Cutie's café and the numerous other illegal gambling spots.

"You may not see it, because it happens upstairs and away from view, but we know it is there. The police know it is there," said Kwock.

Some may not see the problem with wagering at illegal game rooms, but it's a safe bet illicit operations can cause other crimes to crop up around them.

"Gambling has an association with organized crime and these game rooms are an attraction that leads to robberies, assaults and homicide," said Maj. Calvin Tong, with HPD Narcotics/Vice Division.

Game room busts periodically happen, Tong said they have raided a dozen places so far this year, but illegal gambling is constantly happening.
"We've identified about 50 known game rooms around the island"

Kwock says more should be done, especially in Chinatown where gambling parlors have been a problem for decades….

read … Payoffs

UH Dorm AC Broken for 1 year and Counting

KHON: University of Hawaii students are paying more to live in a dorm room with air conditioning, but not all are getting what they paid for.

A frustrated parent whose son lives on the Manoa campus reached out to KHON2’s Action Line for help, saying the air conditioning at Frear Hall hasn’t worked since last year.

Frear Hall is one of the newer residence halls at UH Manoa and the only hall with air conditioning. That’s a big reason why students pay more to live there.

But for months, many students say their rooms have been hot and “miserable,” and they just want to know when it will be fixed.

read … UH residents frustrated with sweltering conditions, broken air conditioning

Feds are a Puppet on an anti-GMO String

KE: …EPA regional director Alexis Strauss yesterday indicated that her agency is soon to lower the boom on Syngenta over an incident in which workers entered a field too soon after it had been sprayed with chlorpyrifos.

“Hawaii is a particular focus for our pesticide interests, and we have been actively investigating an event that occurred in January on Kauai and are going to see that through to a very significant conclusion shortly,” Strauss told Beth-Ann Kozlovich during aninterview on HPR's The Conversation.

Unfortunately, Beth-Ann didn't ask why Hawaii is a particular focus, considering Strauss' region includes California, with its much higher pesticide use. But one can only assume that Earthjustice has played a part, with its constant complaints and requests for the agency's intervention.

It's fine if EPA is getting involved in Hawaii for legitimate health and safety issues. But it's not so fine if it's being driven by Earthjustice's anti-GMO/anti-ag agenda, as evidence by the group's legal actions, which are directed solely against agriculture, specifically the seed companies, even though pest control companies use far more — and much more hazardous — pesticides.

No doubt Earthjustice will use the EPA's action against Syngenta to further spread its false narrative of seed companies as poisoners and itself as savior. We already saw that on March 11, when Earthjustice, HAPA, Hawaii Seed, the Pesticide Action Network and the MOM Huicalled upon the EPA to investigate the incident, with EJ's Paul Achitoff using his usual flamingly deceptive rhetoric….

read … Puppets

Community solar farm ownership to take time

SA: Oahu residents who want to own a portion of a solar farm will have to wait at least one year before the option will be available.

That was the message from a round-table discussion about community-based renewable programs on Wednesday featuring Hawaiian Electric Co., state Public Utilities Commission staff members, members of the solar industry and clean-energy nonprofits.

During the discussion Keiki-Pua Dancil, director of business strategy development at HECO, said planning for a community renewable-energy project at HECO could take anywhere between 12 and 18 months after getting an order from the PUC.

“The sooner we know what the parameters are, the sooner we can get to work,” Dancil said.

The PUC staff members at the meeting would not say how long it will take to deliver the guidelines for the program….

read … Time

Compromise reached over Mana‘olana high-rise

SA: Under a new draft of Resolution 16-172, Mana‘olana Partners will “partner with a city or state public housing development agency to provide at least 20 rental housing units” that meet affordable housing requirements within 1 mile of the upcoming Ala Moana rail transit station, or contribute the monetary equivalent of 20 rental units up to $3 million that is to be deposited into the city’s Housing Development Special Fund….

read …. Four More Units

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