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Sunday, June 11, 2017
June 11, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:35 AM :: 695 Views


Kamehameha: The Founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Hilo: DLNR Land Lease Ends with Demolition of Hotel

Reaching Back into the Past

Old Boys Give $605K Grant to Some Guy in Hilo

SA: …Lawmakers this year approved a grant worth hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a privately owned Hawaii island well-drilling company through a process usually used to fund nonprofit social service organizations, and some lawmakers are wondering why.

Gov. David Ige and several lawmakers said they have never seen a similar grant-in-aid award. Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who oversaw the construction grant-in-aid process for the Senate, said even he was surprised to learn lawmakers could award funds to a private, for-profit company under the state’s grant-in-aid program.

Dela Cruz described this type of grant as “awkward,…,” ….

Dela Cruz said he consulted with Sens. Kai Kahele and Inouye about the Pacific Well Drilling application.

“They both explained the situation, that access to water was critical, and that they believed it was important,” Dela Cruz said. “There was no, like, political dealmaking, or anything like that.” (LOL!)….

Ahuna lives in Kahele’s district, and Kahele said Ahuna and his brother visited his office to present their plan to him. Kahele said he supported the grant application because he was interested in the possibility of providing water service to rural communities and underserved Hawaiian home lands

Each year lawmakers award grants in aid to help private nonprofit organizations with their operating costs and construction projects. This year about $30 million was approved for capital costs for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Bishop Museum, the YMCA of Honolulu and other groups that provide community benefits ranging from low-cost housing to youth programs and job training.

However, senators also included on the list a $605,000 grant for a for-profit company called Pacific Well Drilling and Pump Services on Hawaii island. According to the grant application, Pacific Well Drilling now engages in “very minimal operations” from the home of business owner Kihei Ahuna, and the money will be used to purchase used drilling equipment to expand Ahuna’s business.

NOTE: BREG records show that “Pacific Well Drilling and Pump Services” is not a company, it is just a trade name registered to Kihei Ahuna.

Senate Transportation and Energy Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Inouye said she backed Ahuna’s grant application because it would help provide clean drinking water in rural areas, adding that “I did give a recommendation to Donovan (Dela Cruz) because I know the Ahunas personally as well. His mother used to work for me when I was managing the Orchid Island Hotel. She was one of our housekeepers.”

Inouye (D, Kaupulehu-­Waimea-North Hilo) said she is sure the Ahuna family supported her politically when she represented the Keaukaha area in the Senate, as Hawaii County mayor and when she served as a county councilwoman, but noted she no longer represents that area of Hawaii island….

State Rep. Nicole Lowen, who oversaw the grant-in-aid process for the state House this year (translation: Signed off on this $605K giveaway), said she may propose changes to state law to prevent lawmakers (like her) from ever making a similar grant award in the future. Lowen said she “absolutely” believes the grant-in-aid awards should be reserved for nonprofits (‘absolutely’, except this time). 

The grant to Pacific Well Drilling was one of the most generous capital awards of the year. In fact, it was larger than the combined total value of the capital grants awarded to the Oahu Veterans Council, Frank De Lima’s Student Enrichment Program, the Lana‘i Culture & Heritage Center, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Palama Settlement, the Read To Me International Foundation, Women in Need and Catholic Charities Hawai‘i.

Ige said his administration has a process to review all grant-in-aid requests to be sure they are “legal and appropriate” and said staff will review the Pacific Well Drilling grant to see “what the specific grant request is for, and whether it is appropriate or not.”

Ige served as chairman of the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee that managed grant-in-aid requests, but he said he never saw a grant in aid such as this one made to a private company….

read … Back to their old Tricks 

Hawaii’s environmental strides are more smoke than substance

Borreca: …Last week, Hawaii got a little publicity when Gov. David Ige signed into law two bills to fluff up Hawaii’s environmental protection laws. It was largely hyped as Hawaii making news as the first state to implement parts of the Paris climate accord. It poked a political sharp stick at President Donald Trump’s foolish decision to withdraw from the global agreement and allowed Trump opponents to climb the green hilltops of environmental correctness.

What precisely did the new Hawaii Paris accord laws do?

First, Senate Bill 599 did a good job of tracking Hawaii’s history regarding global warming. For instance, the new law changes the name of the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Committee to make it a commission.

The commission will then check into the problems of global warming and issue reports.

“The commission shall identify existing climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts at the federal, state, and local levels and make recommendations for how to meet or exceed Hawaii’s state mitigation goals and shall adopt a liberal approach in preparation, so as to minimize future risk to the people and environment of Hawaii,” bellows our new law.

Henry Curtis, executive director of the environmental public service group Life of the Land, was not impressed.

“To say that Hawaii will adopt part of the Paris Climate Agreement, but not specify what part, and to say that we are leading the world, when 10 U.S. states and 200 U.S. cities have pledged similar things, is beyond credible,” Curtis said in response to an email query.

“Hawaii has enacted weak laws that say we will do things in the future,” noted Curtis, who suggested that the state should at least “detail greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, publish it, and make a detailed roadmap on how to progressively cut emissions in each sector.”

Remember, it was the Ige administration through its Public Utilities Commission that ended the popular net energy metering program two years ago. Since then the solar industry reports that the once-red-hot transformation to rooftop solar has almost disappeared — falling 59 percent in the last year.

Also it was the state Legislature that in 2015 passed — and Ige signed — a special tax break for AES Hawaii Inc. to continue burning up to 700,000 tons of coal ….

read … Hawaii’s environmental strides are more smoke than substance

Increases in bus fares, vehicle taxes and meter parking

SA: …I am deeply disappointed in the City Council’s recent decisions (“City budget ratchets up fees,” Star-Advertiser, June 8).

Increasing the parking meter fees? When is the last time City Council members paid for parking?

Increasing the vehicle weight tax for cars? We are a two-job, two-car family. We need each car to get to work. We are struggling. Now I have to pay more so I can get to work.

For those who can’t afford a car and take the bus, well, they covered that too, didn’t they?….

…We are in a bind financially due to a blatant lack of fiscal accountability and leadership. Now the small business owners of Chinatown are the ones who are being punished (“City budget ratchets up fees,” Star-Advertiser, June 8)….

Big Q: Overall, are you OK with city increases in bus fares, vehicle taxes and Waikiki/ downtown meter parking?

read … City Council failed to show leadership

Leeward GOP silence over rail missteps is deafening

Shapiro: …Rep. Bob McDermott, one of five Republican state legislators and a candidate for governor next year, ripped Gov. David Ige for not immediately calling a special legislative session to ram through another rail excise tax extension for a project that’s nearly $5 billion over budget and growing.

He dismissed concerns of House Democrats about indefinitely extending a tax that was promised to last only 15 years by saying, “We’re already paying it, and the sky isn’t falling.” …

Now there’s a rock-ribbed Republican tax philosophy.

(Ex-Republican) City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, the only Republican on the Council and a future mayoral aspirant, promised a year ago to present a plan to finish rail all the way to Ala Moana without further tax increases.

But there she was during the Legislature, prominent at Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s side, pressing for some $3 billion in new taxing authority for rail while soft-pedaling the gross mismanagement and broken promises….

It’s no surprise, or a problem, that McDermott and Pine support rail; they both represent West Oahu districts that benefit most from the train.

The problem is their lack of leadership you’d expect from an opposition party in demanding the city correct its clueless rail management and out-of-control spending.

McDermott’s essay in Honolulu Civil Beat pitching more taxes to finish rail didn’t have a single word calling for better cost efficiency.

Leeward lawmakers who have the most at stake should have protected rail by voicing the loudest demands for responsible cost management.

Instead, they kept mostly silent as missteps multiplied, enabling the city to avert needed course corrections. If rail fails, it’s on them.

The only current elected Republican to come down hard on rail accountability is Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who says extending the excise tax would “convert a disappointment into a disaster” and reward “reckless hubris and aggressive incompetence.”….….


read … Leeward GOP silence over rail missteps is deafening

Honolulu Homeless improve under Housing First program

SA: The latest report card shows that homeless people placed into market-rate apartments through the city’s Housing First program continue to do better than their counterparts on the street — and are far less likely to use drugs and alcohol, get arrested or rely on hospital emergency rooms.

The study by the University of Hawaii’s College of Social Sciences continued to track the first two years of the city’s 3-year-old Housing First program and found that:

>> 92 percent of clients reported never or rarely using drugs after one year in Housing First; 80 percent reported never or rarely using alcohol after one year.

>> Clients were 64 percent less likely to visit an emergency room, and they were 74 percent less likely to be admitted to a hospital.

>> Clients were 55 percent less likely to be arrested after one year and 61 percent less likely to be arrested after two years….

The UH study of IHS clients found that 89 percent of them were still housed. Eighteen clients were no longer in stable housing, including five who were incarcerated.

Before they were housed, the Housing First clients were considered “chronically homeless,” meaning they’d been homeless for at least a year and had some form of disability.

read … Homeless improve under city’s Housing First program, study says

Doomed: ESSA Plan Requires Kishimoto to ‘Eliminate Achievement Gaps’ by End of Her 3-yr Contract

SA: Ige convened a group that developed a “Blueprint for Public Education.” A “final draft” posted online identifies three focus areas: student success, educator and staff success and system success.

There’s not much time penciled in for hitting its “aspirational targets,” though. For example, the blueprint asserts that “the learning achievement gaps will begin closing in 2017 and will close by 2020.” ….

What isn’t clear — and what Kishimoto will need to oversee — is the plan for how to make the most of the now-freed time that used to go into testing and preparation. Ideas on best practices for creative classroom learning opportunities should be welcome guidance to teachers, and should be part of an implementation plan.

Public education is continuing a process of reform that made great advances under Kishimoto’s predecessor, Kathryn Matayoshi. The metrics are impressive. The graduation rates are rising; Hawaii’s gains in reading and math scores were the second highest nationally…..

read … Doomed

Vexatious?  Hawaii County Shuts off Contact with Community Activist

H247: Mayor Harry Kim’s administration has been in office roughly six months.The way I’ve been treated over this period of time has been nothing short of abysmal, and made me very discouraged about interacting with his administration about transportation issues. It isn’t very appealing to get a phone call from the mayor directly, who proceeds to yell at you over the phone and state that you don’t have the facts straight.

I would let this go if this was my only issue with Mayor Kim, but it is not. February 6, 2017 is a day I’ll remember for a very long time. The new Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco issued a sweeping directive against me that stated I cannot talk to anyone at DPW, and would have submit all inquiries directly to the mayor’s office in writing.

I was able to get this directive somewhat amended, so I could go through the DPW public affairs officer. This made a very difficult situation more palatable, but I still couldn’t talk to the front line engineers that I established relationships with. Some of these engineers I’ve known for 10 years or more. As of a result of this ill-advised directive, I can’t communicate with these engineers going forward.

These actions by Frank DeMarco are a stark example that he intends to ignore public feedback regarding transportation issues. Warren Lee, the previous director, welcomed feedback from the public. He went as so far to take me on a tour of the construction of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass at one point.

I’ve helped DPW advance several West Hawaii transportation projects, which has established a favorable track record with these engineers. However, Frank DeMarco stated at council meeting on April 11th that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing problems for DPW and other county departments. This could be farther from the truth, along with being very hurtful.

I’ve lived in here Kailua-Kona over 41 years, and have had only the community’s best interest at heart.These issues with Mayor Kim’s administration are far and beyond the biggest challenge that I’ve faced with a government entity. We should be working together to make this a better place as I have a lot to offer, but Mayor Kim’s administration insists on treating me like an enemy of the state instead.


read … Stene: Lack of communication with Mayor’s Kim’s administration is discouraging

Maui’s Only Neurosurgeon Unable to Leave Island

MN: Dr. Thomas Rogers has been on call 24/7 for the past two decades as the only neurosurgeon on Maui.

“I think I’ve left Maui three days total since I’ve been here,” Rogers said leaning back in his office chair Thursday in Kahului. “I feel I have a responsibility.”

The 74-year-old has conducted 1,000 to 2,000 spinal surgeries and hundreds of brain surgeries since he moved to the island with his family in 1998. Rogers carefully reviews all head trauma and nearly all neck injuries admitted at his private practice and Maui Memorial Medical Center.

While Rogers cut back his practice several years ago and only does consultations as well as routine surgeries now, he does not appear interested in retirement. He said he is committed to stay and help incoming hospital operator Kaiser Permanente-affiliated Maui Health System find a replacement for him and possibly an additional neurosurgeon….

read … Rogers takes his ‘responsibility’ as only neurosurgeon on Maui seriously

Red tape could delay permits for hemp seed project

HTH: …The largest obstacle is a delay in securing necessary permits to import hemp seeds to Hawaii for the state Department of Agriculture’s new pilot program. These seeds would be distributed to up to three growers, who would develop a Hawaii-specific cultivar of hemp. A request for proposals for the project closed in May.

Funding for the seed project was allocated by the state Legislature, but if the permits are not secured by June 30, it will lapse and return to the general fund….

HTH: Hawaii Hemp Conference abuzz with enthusiasm

read … Red Tape

Upside Down Flag Flies at Hawaii Community College

HTH: …Kalaniakea Wilson, a University of Hawaii at Manoa doctorate student, told the Tribune-Herald he is a leader of a statewide group of students called Ahahui Hae Hawaii, or the Hawaiian Flag Society.

He said the group — comprised of Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian students — is responsible for erecting an ahu at least two years ago at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The ahu, located near the Campus Center, was built in response to student arrests on Mauna Kea, he said.

In late 2015, Wilson said group members constructed a similar ahu located near the front entrance of Hawaii Community College.

Each ahu at the Hilo campuses feature an upside-down Hawaiian flag, which Wilson said is an “internationally recognized symbol” of a nation in distress.

He said students also constructed inverted-flag ahu at UH-Manoa and Kauai Community College. He said the group ultimately wants to bring attention to “illegal acts of war from Jan. 16, 1893, by the U.S. government.”

“That’s the student message,” Wilson said. “We need this resolved; 124 years is too long.”

But the ahu haven’t come without some controversy. Last school year, a UH-Hilo student anonymously contacted the Tribune-Herald and said he felt threatened by the UH-Hilo ahu structure’s statement — specifically the inverted flag — and questioned why it was allowed to remain on campus permanently.

HCC also has received “whistle-blower complaints” about its ahu, Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas told the Tribune-Herald recently, which have come from students, faculty, community members and “veterans who feel disrespected.”

Administrators at both campuses say they’ve engaged “extensively” with several of the students who claim responsibility and are now following guidance from their campus Native Hawaiian councils.

UH-Hilo said it has largely left the structure — flag and ahu — in place.

Campus administrators say they are treating the flag and ahu as a “single installation,” as they believe both were constructed at the same time. The campus has “never removed the flag on the ahu and (has) no plans to do so,” Gail Makuakane-Lundin, UH-Hilo interim executive assistant to the chancellor, told the Tribune-Herald in a message.

HCC, meanwhile, has treated the flag and ahu separately. The campus consulted with its Native Hawaiian council, which determined removing the flag — considered a “form of free speech” — would not be disrespectful of Hawaiian culture, spokesman Thatcher Moats said in an email.

HCC officials believe the flag was added after the ahu was constructed. The ahu is considered separate as a “symbolic structure,” Moats said.

Since April, HCC has removed more than a dozen flags from the ahu, each time notifying the student group “where (the flag) is, and that they are free to pick it up,” Solemsaas said….

read … Distress



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