Hawaii's Good Friday Holiday - What's Up With That?
House Approves Massive Rail Tax Hike and 37 Other Bills
To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes?
Willes Lee Fills Vacancy on NRA Board
How to Change the Jones Act
Telescope Solution: Maunakea World Park?
U.S. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches For Nuclear Trigger
NBC: The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.
North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.
The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.
American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.
The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.
The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor..,..
The Trump administration, emboldened by their punishing strike on Syria, and by a successful meeting with the Chinese leader, hopes that the Chinese will use their considerable leverage to dissuade Kim Jong UN and his government from moving ahead with their nuclear program.
President Trump has said he thinks Xi "wants to help us with North Korea," He credited China during Thursday's White House news conference with Xi with taking a "big step" by turning back boats of coal that North Korea sells to China….
"I think that is what President Trump is getting trying to get the Chinese to do," said Cha. "[It] would impose real pain and force real choices on North Korea — whether the costs are worth it for them to continue to pursue this program if they no longer have any sustenance."
In addition to the coal ships, the Chinese made an important gesture at the UN Thursday: A surprising abstention on a Security Council resolution condemning a Syrian chemical weapons attack. China didn't stand with the Russians on Syria, as it has in the past.
The president also made clear that if the Chinese were unable to defuse the situation, the U.S. would go to alone. On Thursday, he tweeted: "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., and its allies will!"
read … Nuclear Trigger
North Korea attack? House Passes a Resolution
AP: Hawaii lawmakers want state officials to update plans for coping with a nuclear attack as North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands.
The state House public safety committee unanimously passed a resolution Thursday.
Committee Vice Chairman Matt LoPresti says he's not trying to spread fear. But he wants the public to know the government is taking steps to protect them in the worst case scenario.
He's aiming to get state funding to re-equip Cold War-era fallout shelters….
read … Nork Nuke
Full Text: PUC Commissioner Gorak vs Anonymous Complaint
IM: …A ten-page anonymous complaint was filed against Gorak in the summer of 2016. The issues covered in the complaint made it appear to have come from someone with intimate knowledge of the inner circle of the PUC. (see below).
Earlier this month, Thomas Gorak sent a letter, “Responses to anonymous allegations regarding my character and fitness” to the members of the Hawai`i State Senate. ….
read … PUC Commissioner Gorak Responds to Anonymous Complaint
Darryl Perry for HPD Chief?
CB: Kauai PD Chief Darryl Perry, who worked at HPD for 30 years, applied for the job to be Honolulu’s next chief of police. His says his first priority is restoring community trust in the department….
read … Kauai Police Chief Says He’s Applied For Honolulu Chief Job
Kauai police use body cam footage to clear officers of misconduct claims after recent protest
HNN: Kauai police body cam video offers a different perspective of a recent protest in Wainiha that resulted in arrests.
The demonstrators, who were claiming to be protecting a sacred Hawaiian burial site, posted video to social media with allegations of police brutality.
But Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry says the department's footage shows that his officers handled themselves professionally.
"They (the protesters) were just, in my opinion, harassing and antagonizing the officers. Kind of egging them on to do something. They're putting the camera in our face, but now they understand that we're filming them too," Perry said….
Demonstrators have not yet returned phone calls for comment.
The Kauai Police Department is the only Hawaii department to have widely adopted police body cams so far.
And Perry said the Wainiha case is among several in which body cams have played a role in clearing officers of allegations of misconduct.
"They understand right now that it not only protects the public and the recording of information, it also protects them against false allegations," Perry said.
read … Kauai police use body cam footage to clear officers of misconduct claims after recent protest
HNL Hangar: More Finger-Pointing in HDOT’s Latest Disaster
SA: …Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim urged the state Attorney General’s Office to look closely at the role played by consultant Wesley R. Segawa &Associates Inc., saying the consultant may be partly liable for some of the problems on the job.
Segawa was initially awarded a $4 million contract in 2009 to oversee construction on the 280,000-square-foot maintenance hangar and cargo facility, which is a critical component of a larger, long-delayed Honolulu Airport modernization effort….
The general contractor on that hangar job was dck Pacific Construction LLC, which won a $73 million state Department of Transportation contract to build the hangar and related facilities.
Lawmakers were told at a briefing Thursday that a dozen change orders then increased the size of dck’s contract to about $90 million, and the state paid a total of about $70 million to the company. However, transportation officials stopped making payments to dck after they learned the company was not paying subcontractors who worked on the job, according to court filings.
Dck was declared in default of the contract in late December 2015, and the hangar project has been stalled ever since. The state, dck and subcontractors who worked on the job are now suing one another, and the Attorney General’s Office has asked lawmakers for permission to pay out more than $10 million to settle claims by the subcontractors.
Hawaiian Airlines has stepped in to finish the job, and Hawaiian’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Dunkerley, has said his company has identified 3,500 “issues” that need to be resolved in the unfinished building, about half of which are construction flaws…..
Price said that as far as he knows, Segawa observed and noted “what was done right and what was done wrong,” which is how the state knows of the problems with the project. He said all of the noted problems with construction would have to be corrected before the state would accept the job and make final payment….
read … Officials question consultant’s role in hangar setbacks
Will Private-Public Partnership Make New Stadium Possible
SA: …But can a state struggling to cover costs tied to other much-needed upgrades — ranging from cooling classrooms for schoolchildren to reducing unacceptable levels of overcrowding in correctional facilities — afford to take on a big-ticket makeover at the Halawa site?
The stadium authority’s answer: Forge a public-private partnership to help underwrite costs. Such a strategy holds great potential as the city plans to build its midpoint rail station one-quarter mile from the stadium — and the ongoing transit-oriented development effort encourages an array of ancillary commercial and residential construction.
read … PPP?
HART: Feds Help us Shift Blame for Rail Mess
CB: In particular, we were pleased to note that the panel confirmed that what has been built to date is of good quality and meets the industry standard in design. There are no safety issues related to construction.
It is also important to note the panel’s finding that legal challenges and previous contracting decisions have had a significant impact on budget, claims and schedule. In a related finding, the peer panel noted, “HART leadership is managing through historic issues both in contracting decisions as well as delay-based claims.”
All of us at HART were pleased that this panel of top experts recognized that “The (Honolulu rail) project, when completed, will significantly improve mobility throughout Honolulu.”
read … How The Peer Review Report On Rail Helps HART
100,000 Pounds Of Debris Hauled Out Of Papahanaumokuakea—No Mention of Plastic Bags
CB: …Huge piles of fishing buoys and nets, old footballs and volleyballs, a postal service box with rubber slippers in it, cracked construction helmets, big black tires, broken laundry baskets and even a plastic pink flamingo were stacked up Thursday morning along a federal pier at Ford Island.
IQ Test: If they found even one plastic bag, would it have been included in that list?
In all, roughly 100,000 pounds of marine debris were collected on the reefs and shorelines of Midway and Kure atolls over the past six years before it was finally hauled more than 1,000 miles to Honolulu, where much of it will be incinerated and turned into energy….
HNN: Photos—No Plastic Bags in this Story Either
read … not a single plastic bag
Volunteers Build Ewa Beach Skate park After Caldwell Refuses
SA: Brandon Pagarigan says after raising safety concerns, he is proud of the work he and other young skateboarders put in to a community effort to improve the skateboarding area at Ewa Beach Community Park.
The James Campbell High School junior joined about 30 volunteers who helped to build and install two concrete obstacles for skateboarders at the park, located across N Road from Campbell High. The Association of Skateboarders in Hawaii stepped in and recruited volunteers and helped to collect donations to pay for the project, initially estimated to cost $37,000.
The work started in February and was completed last month with the budget coming in at about $20,000, said Chuck Mitsui, the nonprofit association’s founder. Mitsui said the best part of the experience was watching the young skateboarders, along with help from family and friends, learn the mechanics of building and installing obstacles. Pagarigan, 17, agreed, adding that he did not know how much work it took until putting in long hours at the skate park….
read … Volunteers
‘Booster’ Accused of Stealing $10K from School Club
HNN: …The vice president of a Big Island middle school's ukulele band booster club allegedly stole $10,000 in donations from the group, then told police the money had been stolen, authorities said.
JoAnn Maldonado, 42, was vice president for the Waiakea Intermediate School Ukulele Band Booster Club.
On Monday, she reported her home had been burglarized, and that the thief had gotten away with the $10,000 along with other belongings.
But police say Maldonado made up the story and took the money herself….
read … Another Day in the DoE
Court report: State never should have returned 'Peter Boy' to his parents
HNN: A court-appointed expert says the state was negligent in protecting "Peter Boy" Kema, and is liable for his death and the suffering of his siblings if a lawsuit were to be filed.
The sharply-worded report, which was filed Thursday in Hilo Family Court, said Peter Boy and his siblings were removed several times from their parents' home, but were returned — despite confirmed abuse and their own fear of more harm.
"There was overwhelming evidence that Peter Kema, Sr. and Jaylin Kema were unfit, violent and abusive parents, yet family reunification continued to be the goal of the state," said the report, written by special master Stephen Lane…..
PDF: Court Report
read … Court report: State never should have returned 'Peter Boy' to his parents