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Monday, October 03, 2016
October 3, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:05 PM :: 1547 Views

HIDOT Fails to Answer -- $78K Administrative Cost Per Mile

Hawaii Insurance Commissioner one of only Two With Secret Financial ‘Disclosures’

Under Hawaii’s Starriest Skies, a Fight Over Rent Money for OHA

NYT: To astronomers, the Thirty Meter Telescope would be a next-generation tool to spy on planets around other stars or to peer into the cores of ancient galaxies, with an eye sharper and more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, another landmark in humanity’s quest to understand its origins….

Later this month, proponents and opponents of the giant telescope will face off in a hotel room in the nearby city of Hilo for the start of hearings that will lead to a decision on whether the telescope can be legally erected on the mountain….

“This is a very simple case about land use,” Kealoha Pisciotta, a former telescope operator on Mauna Kea who has been one of the leaders of a group fighting telescope development on the mountain for the last decade. “It’s not science versus religion. We’re not the church. You’re not Galileo.”  (Translation: I am here to collect the rent.)

In 1968 the University of Hawaii took out a 65-year lease on 11,000 acres for a dollar a year. Some 500 acres of that are designated as a science preserve. It includes the ice age quarry from which stone tools were being cut a thousand years ago, and hundreds of shrines and burial grounds.

The first telescope went up in 1970. Many rapidly followed.

Places like Mauna Kea are “cradles of knowledge,” said Natalie Batalha, one of the leaders of NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting mission. “I am filled with reverence and humility every time I get to be physically present at a mountaintop observatory.”

But some Hawaiians worried that knowledge was coming at too great a cost.

“All those telescopes got put up with no thought beyond reviving the Hilo economy,” said Michael Bolte, an astronomer from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who serves on the TMT board.

(Yes.  TMT must revive the OHA ‘economy’, too!)

“Not a lot of thought was given to culture i$$ue$.”

The astronomers picked a telescope site that was less anthropologically sensitive, on a plateau below the summit with no monuments or other obvious structures on it. They agreed to pay $1 million a year, a fifth of which would go to the state’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the rest to stewardship of the mountain. Quietly, they also pledged another $2 million a year toward science and technology education and work force development on the island of Hawaii.

The Moore Foundation also put some $2 million into the Imiloa Astronomy Center, a museum and planetarium run by the University of Hawaii….

Gov. David Ige has tried to appease both sides….

Gov. David Ige has tried to appease both sides. While saying that “we have in many ways failed the mountain,” he said the Thirty Meter Telescope should go forward, but at least three other telescopes would have to come down.

Astronomers and business leaders grew frustrated that the state was not doing enough to keep the road open for construction trucks and workers.

“The result of the faulty law enforcement surrounding Mauna Kea is fostering tension, aggression, racism and business uncertainty,” business organizations and the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce wrote to the governor. “Ambiguity surrounding the rule of law has prompted a poor economic climate.”

Stopping trucks on the steep slope was dangerous, said Dr. Bolte, adding that “People were basically trapped at the summit.”

Dr. Simons, the Canada-France-Hawaii director, grew increasingly worried about the effect of the protests on the astronomers, who became reluctant to be identified as observatory staffers.

“It really tugged at us to see the staff going from being proud to scared in a matter of weeks,” he said.

Meanwhile Ms. Pisciotta‘s coalition was plugging through the courts.

On Dec. 2, the Hawaiian Supreme Court revoked the telescope building permit, ruling that the state had violated due process by handing out the permit before the contested case hearing.

“Quite simply, the Board put the cart before the horse when it issued the permit,” the court wrote.  (Of course it found an excuse.  Everybody knows: “Enviros win 90% in Hawaii Supreme Court“.)

The court’s decision set the stage for a new round of hearings, now scheduled to start in mid-October. The case, presided over by Riki May Amano, a retired judge appointed by the Land Board, is likely to last longer than the first round, which consumed seven days of hearings over a few weeks, partly because there are more parties this time around. Among them is the pro-telescope Hawaiian group called Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities or PUEO, who contend the benefits of the TMT to the community have been undersold.

Whoever wins this fall’s contested case hearing, the decision is sure to be quickly appealed to the Hawaiian Supreme Court….

In an interview, Edward Stone, a Caltech professor and vice president of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory, the group that will build the telescope, set April 2018 as the deadline for beginning construction. Depending on how it goes in Hawaii or elsewhere, the telescope could be ready sometime in the last half of the next decade.

“We need to start building this thing somewhere,” he said.

“We still hope Hawaii will work,” he added. “What we need is a timely permit and we need access to the mountain once we have a permit.”

But there is no guarantee that even if the astronomers succeed in court they will prevail on the mountain. In an email exchange, J. Douglas Ing, lawyer for the MMT Observatory, said they were “cautiously optimistic” that local agencies would uphold the law, but the astronomers have also been investigating sites in Mexico, Chile, India, China and the Canary Islands.

read …  The New York Times

Vote to enhance powers of Honolulu Police Commission

SA: …Honolulu voters have a chance to give the Police Commission greater authority by approving a proposed amendment to the Honolulu City Charter, giving the commission expanded authority. It tops the list of 20 amendments that will be on the general election ballot Nov. 8.

Voters should ratify proposed Amendment No. 1: There’s never been greater need for the commission to perform its role aggressively. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on HPD’s record of lax disciplinary consequences for police misconduct, and more oversight is needed.

But the most high-profile case is an ongoing federal investigation involving Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha….

CB: Voters Can Bolster Police Oversight By Passing Honolulu Ballot Measure

read … Vote

Repeal Rail Tax!

CB: The Legislature could halt the project by repealing the tax surcharge funding it, which would give the Honolulu City Council a tough choice….

read … Repeal

Some Upset Kenoi Video not Censored

CB: …The Hawaii Tribune-Herald’s John Burnett reported that Hawaii Land Use Commission member Jonathan Likeke Scheuer posted the video on Facebook, with the hashtag #imuabillykenoi. (Scheuer declined to return a call about this.) At about the same time, Civil Beat obtained the same video and published the story about it. All of this is fine from a legal perspective.

Some readers, though, have said that this publishing act wasn’t fair to Kenoi, since (insert excuse here) he had his guard down and might have assumed privacy at the setting….

read … Media not protecting political class!

Charter schools might skirt panel

CB: Supporters of proposed rules that would allow for groups such as nonprofits and universities to approve and oversee Hawaii’s public charter schools say the move would strengthen charters without eroding standards.

Hawaii currently has a single charter-authorizing agency, the Public Charter School Commission, a state entity responsible for regulating the state’s 34 charter schools.

The state Board of Education is considering allowing multiple “authorizers” — a common practice in other states. Charter school leaders, students and advocates packed the BOE’s boardroom last week during a public hearing to voice support for proposed rules, arguing that the change would strengthen the charter sector and relieve capacity issues at the commission. They also contend authorizers should align with the missions of the schools they oversee….

read … Charter schools might skirt panel

Shelters Moving Homeless Families into Permanent Housing

CB: …Over the next two years, Kakaako’s newest homeless center will try to place hundreds of people into permanent housing within 90 days.

That work began last week when the Kakaako Family Assessment Center opened its doors to its first four families….

The Kakaako Family Assessment Center is not alone in its 90-day goal. At Sand Island, the Institute for Human Services’ Hale Mauliola Housing Navigation Center, which acts as a portal toward permanent housing, shares that objective, though the center is for individuals and couples without children.

According to Kimo Carvalho, IHS director of community relations, the shorter length of stay compared to emergency and transitional shelters is because the center serves homeless people who are ready and willing to quickly move into housing. This means their clients have identification, a financial plan and can address and maintain their social and health concerns.

When the center opened in November, the goal was to get clients into housing within 60 days.

That changed when IHS noticed clients tended to stay for an average of 90 days, Carvalho said.

But as of July, the average length of stay at Hale Mauliola before placement in housing has dropped to 54 days. Besides permanent housing, individuals and couples could also go into places like senior care homes and adult foster care.

Carvalho attributes the center’s success to its relationships with landlords and property managers and its array of services available to clients.

He adds that IHS also has a family dorm, where residents move into permanent housing after average stays of 102 days….

read … Can Homeless Families Really Find Housing Within 90 Days?

Honolulu Drops out of Top 10 Highest Rent Cities

Z: Honolulu, HI slipped out of the top ten most expensive rental markets for the first time since June of this year, as it was leapfrogged by both Chicago and Seattle. Rents for one bedroom units declined only moderately, down 0.6%, while two bedroom unit prices still rose by 2.9%….

Nightmare: What $750/mo will buy you in HNL

read … Dropping

Federal funds will help state conduct study on new ferries

SA: The U.S. Maritime Administration has agreed to help finance a feasibility study for establishing a publicly financed Hawaii ferry service, a plan that may reignite public debate over one of Hawaii’s hot-button transportation and environmental issues.

Lauren K. Brand, the associate administrator for Intermodal System Development in the Maritime Administration, agreed to commit $500,000 for the ferry study after listening to a presentation by Hawaii officials last summer, said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami.

Fuchigami emphasized that any new system would be different from the privately run “Superferry” that ended operations in 2009, and said the latest push for ferry service came from state lawmakers, not from Gov. David Ige’s administration.

State lawmakers this year approved Senate Bill 2618 instructing the department to study the possibility of re-establishing a ferry system, appropriating $50,000 to fund the effort. Ige signed the bill into law, and Fuchigami said he approached Brand for additional money needed for the study….

read … Super

Paniolo Power: A Grab for Energy Storage Resources?

IM: …The use of chemical batteries is the rage of current electricity planning. After all, everyone has batteries in their cell phones and in many other electronic devices. But the mainstay of energy storage on electric grids across the world is pumped storage hydro (PSH), a technique more than 100 years old.

When there is excess electricity, pumped water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir.  When there is a shortage of electricity, drop the water through a turbine. As much as 99 percent of global electric storages on electric grids is done through pumped storage hydro.

The HECO Companies blamed their lack of pumped storage hydro analysis on Parker Ranch subsidiary Paniolo Power. “PSH was evaluated as a resource on applicable islands.” At a PUC Technical Conference held on March 8, 2016, “Paniolo Power indicated that they had detailed information on a pumped-storage hydro unit located at Parker Ranch. We asked them to provide that information so that we could include it in our PSIP analysis. This information, however, was not forthcoming.” ….

read … Is Hawaiian Electric Company on the Same Page with Regulators and Stakeholders?

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