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Thursday, June 01, 2017
June 1, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:31 AM :: 442 Views

Sex Harassment: Only Victim Can Sue Peter Apo says Court

Q-Mark Shreds its Own Reputation with Poll Claiming Anti-Aquarium Hysteria Reaches 90%

VIDEO: ICBM Knocked out of Sky in Successful Test of Missile Defense

Poll: Trump as Popular as Caldwell in Hawaii

CB: …The survey found that only 32 percent of the state’s registered voters polled had a positive view of Caldwell, a lifelong Democrat who once served in the Hawaii Legislature.

The mayor’s statewide approval rating is identical to Trump’s at 32 percent.

And Caldwell’s favorability dips even farther among his constituents living on Oahu.

Only 31 percent of respondents on Oahu have a positive opinion of Caldwell. More than half — about 51 percent — have a negative view. Voters living in areas that won’t directly benefit from the rail project have a more negative view of Caldwell than those who do….

Nearly 87 percent of Oahu respondents don’t like the current state of the rail project.

Fitch said that doesn’t mean they don’t support the concept, it’s just that the execution has people worried.

“Right now rail is a troubled enterprise,” Fitch said. “Nobody likes rail. Nobody.”

Caldwell’s approval rating was 54 percent in 2015. The precipitous drop might not bode well for future political aspirations he might have.

About 48 percent percent of those polled on Oahu said Caldwell is doing a “bad job” at managing the rail project. Forty percent say he’s done his “best in a bad situation.”

Few, however, said the mayor has done a good job of managing what is considered the largest infrastructure project in Hawaii’s history. Only 10 percent of Oahu voters said they like how he’s handled the adversity….

read … Rail Birther

Testifiers reject Hawaii Co gas tax hike

WHT: Almost every one of the more than dozen residents addressing the County Council at a public hearing Wednesday on a gas tax increase was opposed to the idea….

Testifiers were skeptical the extra money would be used for its stated purpose and some worried about the effect on seniors.

“Adding the tax to these people is taking part of their quality of life away,” said April Lee, who lives in Hawi.

Some spoke on the disproportionate effect the tax will have on low-income commuters.

“I guess you hate poor people,” said Toby Hazel, testifying from Pahoa. “Well, I hate being poor.”

Others spoke to the ramifications on other goods and services that require fuel.

“Higher fuel prices mean higher prices for everything that requires transportation — food, clothing, furniture, construction activities, emergency vehicles, everything,” said Cory Hardin, testifying from Hilo.

Under the plan, the gas tax would rise first from 8.8 cents a gallon to 19 cents, with increases of 2 cents in each of the next two years until it reaches 23 cents. That’s the amount Maui now charges and is the highest rate in the state….

“Hawaii County has more area than all the other islands combined,” said Albert Nakaji of Papaikou. “This means that people here must travel farther than people on the other islands.”….

HTH: Japanese Chamber of Commerce says 'No Tax Hikes'

read … Testifiers reject gas tax hike

Ethics? Kauai County Council Eliminates County Auditor Office

KGI: Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. submitted a $204 million budget in March. But when he submitted his supplemental budget on May 5, it reflected a $600,000 decrease, bringing it to $203.5 million….

On May 12, the county council further decreased that number to $201.5 million, which is what was voted on Wednesday.

The $1 million decrease from the mayor’s supplemental budget was made possible by removing funds from the auditor’s office, which had an allocation of $504,000, and cutting an additional $100,000 to pay for performance audits. 

(Translation: The Auditor must have been onto something big.)

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she didn’t agree with the way the auditor’s office was removed from the budget.

“We have removed it without the vote of the people,” she said.

The Office of Economic Development saw a $65,000 decrease and $400,000 in overtime for the Kauai Police Department was also removed.

The mayor’s original budget also proposed an increase in real property taxes, which was expected to generate $3.6 million.

But on May 12, councilmembers voted not to increase taxes, and instead to take money from the reserve fund to make up the $1.5 million difference between what the rise in property taxes would have generated and what they were able to cut from the budget….

UPDATE: The Office of the Kauai County Auditor is vacant. There are no employees in this office and yet the building is currently being leased by the county. 

read … Auditor’s office, overtime cut from spending plan

Community Based Solar: Set up to Fail Like GEMS

IM: In the 2015 Hawai`i Legislative Session, Senators Mike Gabbard and Russell Ruderman introduced a bill to establish a Community-based Renewable Energy (CBRE) Program (SB 1050). Seven other Senators signed onto the bill. The House companion bill, HB 484, was authored by 30 of 51 representatives.

All legislators, except for one who was absent, voted yes on the final version of the bill. Governor Ige signed the bill into law as Act 100….

The Public Utilities Commission opened a regulatory docket “to establish a rule to implement a community-based renewable energy program, and other related matters.” (Docket 2015-0389)….

The Consumer Advocate is concerned that the initial phase of the CBRE may be used entirely by the affluent, and that the reliance on unsupported and overly generous prices may result in higher rates for all customers.

The proposal “introduces unnecessary complexity”, and the “proposed rates may send the wrong pricing signals to the market”, that is, the price signals may be “mixed, stale, or unsupported signals”…..

Last but not least, “the Consumer Advocate believes that the current proposed program design does not adequately address the possibility that any subscriptions offered by third-party organizations may be deemed to be securities and, if so, whether that may trigger income reporting requirements that reduce the benefits that customers may experience.”….

On May 30th, HECO fired a warning shot across the bow. “The CBRE Framework, as proposed, is not in the public interest. Specifically, as applicable to the Companies, the Companies agree with KIUC’s arguments that: at this juncture, very little, if any, of the Companies’ previously filed comments and originally proposed tariffs and contracts have been incorporated into the Framework; especially in light of some fairly recent initiatives that have failed (or have not achieved intended results) -- for example, the Green Energy Market Securitization and On-Bill Financing Programs - and resulted in considerable cost burdens to utility customers, the CBRE Framework could result in similar unjustified cost burdens to customers; and any new renewable energy projects added to the Companies’ portfolio should be economically justifiable (i.e., able to stand on their own financial merits), rather than be subsidized at the expense of some of the Companies’ customers.

“In the Companies’ Comments to the Framework, filed on March 1, 2017, the Companies proposed a number of potential remedies that were made to ensure the Program is executable, simple, and provides benefits to all customers.

“If these are not adopted, and the Framework is approved unmodified, the Companies agree that, similar to KIUC’s position, the CBRE Program will not be in the public interest for the Companies’ customers. In that event, the Companies reserve the right to pursue all appropriate legal and administrative remedies to avoid implementing a program that is not in public interest and lacks adequate safeguards to ensure the Program is implemented consistent with state and/or federal securities laws.”

SB1050 of 2015: Text, Status

read … HECO Threatens Lawsuit Over Proposed Community-Based Renewable Energy Program

Contested Case for Hu Honua Rate Hikes?

IM: “The overall B/C ratio of 0.9 for the Hu Honua Project indicates that the costs exceed the benefits from a quantifiable cost perspective.”

Hawaii Revised Statutes §269-16(b) states “A contested case hearing shall be held in connection with any increase in rates, and the hearing shall be preceded by a public hearing.”

Related: Hu Honua Biomess Energy Will Cause $813.60 HELCO Rate Hike

read … Contested

Former Hawaii Legislators Lobby Without Registering

IM: …During the last Hawaii legislative session, at least 12 former State Senators and Representatives lobbied their former colleagues at the State Capitol. Only 75 percent registered as lobbyists….

A Lobbyist is someone who receives compensation for spending "five hours in any month”, or $750 in any of the three reporting periods: January-February, March-April, and May-December….

read … Former Hawai`i Legislators Lobby Without Registering

Murderers among convicted criminals out on work furlough

KHON: More than 300 convicted criminals whose status is technically “incarcerated” are actually out among us daily statewide on work furlough.

But the Department of Public Safety does not want you to know who they are.

KHON2’s Always Investigating got the information after years fighting for disclosure and a ruling in our favor by the Office of Information Practices, the state’s public records watchdog entity. View the full decision here.

We had been pressing for a list for years through the open records appeal process after cases where inmates out on furlough committed additional crimes.

Turns out, convicted murderers are among the inmates who are out in the community working while finishing their sentence….

XCL: Click here to download the furlough list in Excel.

read … Murderers Walk

UPW Absenteeism Puts Guards at Risk

HNN: …The adult corrections officer from the Maui Community Correctional Center, who spoke with Hawaii News Now on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said it's not just an issue of jail overcrowding but understaffing.

And it's a situation so unsafe,he said, that many guards believe their lives are in jeopardy.

"It's only a matter of time before somebody loses their life. It is," the guard said.

"If you go to the male modules ... you have your control man, who sits in the control box, and then you have a rover. You're supposed to have a floor (guard), which would give you three, but you're only getting the two. And that's one rover to upwards of 90 to 95 men."

Espinda, who heads up Public Safety, said managers face difficult decisions about where to station corrections officers depending on how many show up to work on any given day. But he said guards' lives are never put at risk.

"We are staffed at our institutions in conjunction with union agreements," he said. "We are often left at the mercy of staff attendance. We do the best we can to accommodate the needs of the institution while keeping the operation safe and secure."

In January, the ACLU formally asked the Department of Justice to investigate what it alleges are unconstitutional conditions and overcrowding in Hawaii prisons and jails.

It says Maui Community Correctional Center is the worst….

The corrections officer has a message for Espinda, though: "I would tell him that he really needs to take a hard look at his line staff and start looking at how he can treat them better, show some concern, ask the hard question -- why don't people want to be at work? Because lets face it, its been in the news before, we have a issue with attendance but no one has ever looked at why. He needs to do that."

HNN: Maui ACO: Under-staffing and Overcrowding Puts Lives at Risk

read … UPW is the Problem

City Finds Way to Make Construction Even More Expensive

KHON: …For new projects with 40,000 square feet of office space, they will be required to install two separate shower facilities and lockers.

One pair of showers for men, and one pair for women. The facilities must also be available to everyone who works in the building…. (What about trannies?)

The more office space, the more showers are required. For every additional 30,000 square feet, another pair of showers and lockers must go in -- up to a total of 10….

Not only will new office projects have to comply with the code, older buildings that are converted to office space will also have to provide the additional facilities….

According to a commercial real estate expert, other than a new office building being constructed near Aala Park, no others office space projects are in the works….

read … Drive Up Costs

Enviros Delay Work to Prevent Massive Sand Island Sewage Spill—Demand Fealty to God of Global Warming 

SA: The decades-long erosion of the shoreline just outside the city’s Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant leaves the facility’s outfall pipeline in a precarious situation where “failure or damage to the outfall could have catastrophic health, environmental and economic consequences,” according to an environmental report made public by the city last month.

To shield the land-side portion of the outfall pipe from damage, the city Department of Environmental Services wants to rebuild a sloping, bermlike barrier “to armor the shoreline” and to shield the land-side portion of the outfall pipe from damage.

City officials insisted that the planned structure, technically called a “revetment,”….

The city needs federal, state and city permits to build the structure, and the draft Environmental Assessment, completed by SSFM International and filed with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control on May 23, concludes the project would not cause any adverse environmental impacts.  (And a massive sewage spill would cause damage, but neither of these facts is stopping the eco-obstructionists.).

The city is hoping to obtain all necessary approvals by June 2019 and have the project completed within six months of that. Estimated cost of construction is $3.7 million.

Jodi Malinoski, Oahu coordinator for the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said her organization is reviewing the draft Environment Assessment and has yet to come up with a formal position.

“We do recognize that this project may be inevitable,” Malinoski said. “But we would encourage our state to do more to prevent climate change and sea level rise.”

If nothing else, she said, the need for the project reinforces the importance for the city to have a fully staffed Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency…. (Good.  Lets give them mops and hazmat suits and send them in!)

read …Erosion could imperil sewage outfall

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