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Friday, June 23, 2017
June 23, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:26 PM :: 1902 Views

HART Cancels Audit: "It's not my intent to figure out what we did wrong”

Trump nominates retired Admiral Buzby to be MARAD Administrator

Meet the Jones Act: A 97-year-old regulatory law that's costing you money

Transforming Military Impact Aid into Education Savings Accounts

HART Incompetence: Rail station strategy proves costly

SA: In 2015, amid mounting costs, Honolulu rail leaders boasted that their efforts to obtain lower bid prices were paying off. A decision to break up a big nine-station construction contract into three smaller ones trimmed the price of that work by more than $40 million….

However, it’s now clear that much of those touted savings will disappear. The agency overseeing rail will have to pay its construction consultant (hired because nobody at HART is competent to oversee their own project) millions of dollars extra to help monitor all the West side station work simultaneously, project officials now say….

By the time PGH Wong’s contract finishes, HART expects it could pay the firm as much as $36 million more on top of the original $54.2 million deal, which was signed in January 2014, to handle the extra work.  (Because HART didn’t break this contract up.)

“We will be back” to ask for more PGH Wong funding later, HART West Construction Manager Kai Nani Kraut told the board Thursday.

The original contract assumed that the firm would have to oversee only one construction contract to build all nine West side stations.  (And nobody at HART is competent to figure this out.)

By dividing the station work into three smaller bundles, HART enabled more contractors to bid, attracted more competition and drove down the prices, officials said….  (But they couldn’t see that the same was true for the consultants they need to hire because nobody at HART knows how to do anything except burn your money.) 

HNN: Rail Transparency Concerns

read … Rail station strategy proves costly

Supreme Court could reveal action on travel ban at any time

KITV: The Supreme Court has almost certainly decided what to do about President Donald Trump's travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly Muslim countries.

The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump's presidency. The issue has been tied up in the courts since Trump's original order in January sparked widespread protests just days after he took office.

The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private conference in June and probably took a vote about whether to let the Trump administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration's appeal of lower court rulings blocking the ban.

The court's decision could come any time and is expected no later than late next week….

Exactly when could depend on whether there are justices who disagree with the outcome and want to say so publicly. It might take time for such an opinion to be written - and perhaps responded to by someone in the majority.

It takes five votes to reinstate the ban, but only four to set the case for argument….

UPDATE: Supreme Court Allows Travel Ban To Take Effect

LINK: https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/ordersofthecourt/16

read … Supreme Court could reveal action on travel ban at any time

Hirono to undergo second cancer surgery

SA: …U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono will undergo surgery Tuesday to remove a lesion on her seventh rib where a second tumor was found by doctors, Hirono told KITV’s Paula Akana in an interview that aired tonight.

Hirono, who was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer and had a kidney removed last month, said she expects to make a full recovery following a day or two at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, where the surgery is taking place.

The rib surgery is being undertaken now “because her cancer is less aggressive than originally thought,” Hirono’s staff said in a press release following the interview.

The 69-year-old also told Akana that she is “definitely running for reelection” in fall 2018….

KITV: Interview with Sen. Mazie Hirono on her battle with kidney cancer

read … Hirono to undergo second cancer surgery

Newly hired teacher faces two month delay in pay

ILind: …I just learned today that I should expect an 8-week pay gap with my new Hawaii DOE…teacher position. How am I supposed to live like this? This is why teachers go homeless here. I can’t meet my basic financial needs and care for Gusto with an 8-week pay gap! It is unacceptable for teachers who are already making below cost of living wages to not get paid until 8 weeks after their start date! I’m on my own, and this isn’t going to work….

This inexcusable delay in paying new state employees has been an issue for decades, literally. I’m stunned that it hasn’t long since been resolved.

A reasonable delay for processing paperwork for a new employee, okay. Two months? Not reasonable! If this is how teacher recruitment is handled, no wonder we have a chronic shortage….

(Nobody at DoE has ever heard of ADP.)

read … Newly hired teacher faces two month delay in pay

Can HGEA and its Legislature Stop Airport Security Privatization?

SA: …State Sen. Will Espero has questioned whether the DOT’s move is payback for a lawsuit filed last year by the sheriffs’ union to block the state’s new contract with a private airport security firm, Securitas. The firm first landed an Oahu and Hawaii County contract in 2004, followed, three years later, by Maui and Kauai contracts.

Last summer the state awarded Securitas a three-year, $130 million contract for security at all Hawaii airports.

Sheriff’s deputies are posted only at the Honolulu airport. Why? Cost. In this case, the state estimated that hiring deputies for posts at airports statewide would have cost another $6 million a year due, in part, to overtime and other benefits.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, meanwhile, is questioning whether private security guards are qualified or legally authorized to have police powers. The union contends that, over the years, the DOT has allowed Securitas to expand its role. Particularly worrisome is the lawsuit’s assertion that the Honolulu airport is the only facility within the Federal Aviation Administration’s “Category X” high-volume grouping that allows privately contracted personnel to provide first-responder “law enforcement and policing services.”

A total of nearly 300 Securitas officers work at the Honolulu airport during any 24-hour stretch. The contractor’s overall staff includes 72 armed Securitas law enforcement officers, who can issue citations and make arrests while on state airport property.

Among their current job requirements: Two years of professional experience as a law enforcement officer after graduating from a bona- fide law enforcement or military academy in the U.S. They’re also required to undergo semi-annual firearms re-certification and a live fire training program “consistent with local law enforcement agency standards” to carry a 9mm handgun.  

Big Q: Who should be providing security at Honolulu’s airport?

 

read … Its good to own the Legislature

GEMS: How Many Legislators Does it take to Change a DoE Lightbulb?

CB: …The $46 million loan comes out of a special fund distributed through the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority, which was established by the Legislature in 2013 to provide financing for clean energy technology.

Dann Carlson, an assistant superintendent, said the department will initially focus on replacing light fixtures with LED bulbs with the loan. The use of LED indoor lighting is estimated to save the state about $4 million in energy costs per year.

“If we find savings in the utilities bill, that’s what we would use to pay off the loan,” Carlson said.

read … And $46M Loan

Honolulu Is Paying Back $1.45 Million In Federal Housing Funds

CB: The city approved a contract to rehabilitate Kahuku Elderly housing complex despite the appearance of a conflict of interest, a federal audit found….

The money is part of nearly $16 million that came under scrutiny in a federal audit last year. Since then, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city have gone back and forth about whether the money needs to be repaid, and if so, how much….

“It certainly is going to add to the burden that taxpayers already have,” said Tom Yamachika of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. The repayment comes as the city is raising parking fees and the vehicle weight tax to help grapple with the rising cost of city services.

“The real issue to focus on is what was the cause of this, was it something that could have been seen or prevented,” Yamachika added.

The federal audit also criticized the city’s “dysfunction, inefficiency” in its administration of CDBG funds and the city’s decentralized management of the money….

The audit said the city approved a contract award despite the appearance of a conflict of interest. Kahuku Elderly Partners awarded a construction contract to Hunt Building Co. The company was affiliated with HCP-ILP, one of the property’s owners, through Hunt Companies, the audit said….

Apart from Kahuku Elderly, the federal audit also raised concerns about the spending of $10 million to acquire Hibiscus Hill Apartments and the slow process of rehabilitating the units. Chandler said the city has repaid a $1.5 million loan used for that project and he expects that the apartments will be updated by July 31…..

read … Honolulu Is Paying Back $1.45 Million In Federal Housing Funds

Kauai Council Will not Bow to Mayor’s Demand for Tax Hikes 

KGI: …Friday, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. returned the county’s budget proposal unsigned, although Rapozo said the operating budget will still take effect July 1.

While discussing the specifics of the budget, Rapozo expressed his frustration with legislators regarding their inability to create an open dialogue between the counties and the state when it came to discussing pressing matters, such as the Transient Accommodation Tax.

“Since 2010, when the cap was implemented, Kauai has lost $77.5 million in revenue,” he said. “That’s significant for this island … We pay for that. We should be able to keep that.”

Rapozo assured the 20 people in attendance that he and the county’s delegates pushed hard to raise the cap on TAT, but were unsuccessful for reasons beyond their control.

“We had hoped for more than our capped amount of $103 million and we lobbied hard for that. As TAT revenues rise throughout the state, it’s not fair for the state to cap the county’s budget. It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Our efforts were obviously not successful, and it was reduced to $93 million. We actually lost $10 million with our aggressive push. Some of it is because they were upset with us.”

Rapozo broke down how much money Kauai is missing out on because the cap and restrictions on the TAT. He said that a half percent increase of the general tax would result in a $25 million boost in revenue. However, those revenues are restricted to transportation and roads — something Rapozo opposes. 

read … No New Taxes

Walter Ritte Thug Gets Six Months for Attack on Fishing Boat

MN: …Dudoit, Floyd Kumukoa Kapuni, Kaiula Kalawe English and Albert Dudoit Jr. were arrested after investigation into the May 25, 2014, incident in waters off east Molokai.

Fishing equipment was damaged and one person was pushed overboard when the Molokai men boarded Oahu resident Dr. Daryl Wong’s boat carrying five people, said Deputy Prosecutor Johann Smith.

“The defendant is the one who gave all the instructions to the muscle on the boat,” Smith said. “The defendant is the one who egged them on, instigated violence.”

Smith said Robin Dudoit told the other defendants: “Take their fish, take their spear guns.”

Smith said Dudoit told the victims: “You’re stealing our fish. I’m going to drown you. This is your only warning. If we catch you here again, we’re going to kill you. Tell everybody.”

“He carried out this crime to send a message, not only to the victims on the boat but to everybody else,” Smith said. “But it’s Robin Dudoit that needs to get the message — violence, bullying, threatening to kill people and drown them is not to be tolerated in this state.”

When the boat carrying the Molokai men approached the Oahu boat, one diver was in the water and had to go underwater as the boat sped over him, Smith said. He said another victim was wearing a weight belt when he was pushed into the water.

Dudoit struggled with the owner of a spear gun, which broke as both men tugged on it, Smith said.

“Somebody could have gotten really hurt or died here,” Smith said. “Luckily, nobody got hurt.”

“This is not an act of social activism,” Smith said. “It was an act of piracy meant to harm, scare these innocent fishermen and woman so they would not come back to the defendant’s private space.”

Dudoit had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening. In exchange, the state dismissed two counts of second-degree robbery, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and harassment.

His attorney, Dexter Kaiama….

“He’s held in very high esteem on Molokai,” said Ritte, who was among about a dozen people in the courtroom gallery to support Dudoit…..

Since being arrested with three other men in the incident three years ago, Robin Wainuhea Dudoit, 57, of Kaunakakai has been involved in efforts to work with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to set fishing limits for Molokai, said his friend Walter Ritte Jr.  (Attack a boat, get rewarded with seat at policy-making table.)

Ritte said problems have grown as escort boats for canoe and paddling races have arrived early from Oahu and Maui to fish in Molokai waters. (We must kill them all, lest they catch some fish!)

May 6, 2017: Dexter Kaiama: Keanu Sai's Favorite Lawyer Censured

read … Walter Ritte walks Away Scot-Free (again)

DLNR Urges Ige To Veto Bill Phasing Out Aquarium Fishing In Hawaii

CB: The head of Hawaii’s aquatic resource division said he’s not sure lawmakers “knew what they were doing” when they passed the bill….

Senate Bill 1240: Text, Status

read … DLNR Urges Ige To Veto Bill Phasing Out Aquarium Fishing In Hawaii

Global Warmers Hope King Tide Will Generate More Propaganda Photos (again) 

KITV: …according to NOAA. UH researchers are compiling photos to track the long-term effects of the King Tides. More than 900 photos were submitted in May.

"We're seeing photographs that document beach erosion, coastal erosion, flooding in low-lying areas, issues with storm drains," said Maya Walton, a program leader at the University of Hawaii's Seagrant College Program. "We're even seeing photos of how king tides impact important cultural resources like fish ponds. So we had some photos last month over topping fishpond walls."  (They forgot the Mapunapuna Puddle!)

To submit photos and become a citizen researcher, visit www.PacificIslandsKingTides.org. ….

read …  Submit your King Tides photos to UH researchers

Men Systematically Excluded from College Education

SA: …Women attending colleges and universities have come a long way. The good news is that now 57 percent of students earning bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities are women. 

(This doesn’t include M>F trannies.  When they are added in, the F>M trannies are subtracted, and the gays are accounted for, it appears that there are only 27 actual males left in all of American academia.  Univ. administrators are working to capture these remaining specimens and put them in a zoo.)

Currently in the U.S., 44 million borrowers hold about $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans.

Unfortunately, according to research by AAUW (American Association of University Women), women take on larger student loans than do men, resulting in two-thirds of the outstanding student debt or more than $833 billion held by women. Coupled with the gender pay gap (women earn 26 percent less than men), women take longer to pay back their student loans than their male counterparts. A lower salary means less income to help with debt repayment.

A new report, “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans,” recently published by AAUW (aauw.org/research/deeper-in-debt/), gives an analysis of federal government data. It shows 44 percent of female undergraduates take on student debt, while 39 percent of male undergraduates take on debt. At every degree level, women take on more debt than men….

read … On Borrowed Money

Battery Schemers Demand More Tax Credit Giveaways—Elon Musk Needs Another Billion

PBN: …"We [as an industry] are still driven by the financial aspects and benefits of tax credits," said Robert Johnston, president and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Solar….

Senate Bill 365 proposed an investment income tax credit for energy storage property, while SB361 called for an income tax credit for taxpayers who purchase and install a storage system. Both bills failed to cross over during this year's legislative session, which ended on May 4.

"We’d like to see legislation in the future that includes storage as a tax credit opportunity — as a standalone," Johnston told Pacific Business News. "Right now, storage is subject to the tax credit if it is tied to a renewable energy resource."…

read … Gimme Mo Money

Biki is Really Just a Politically-Connected For-Profit Business

KHON: …“Our main concern is that it doesn’t fit with the Kapiolani Park Trust, which forbids exclusive use of park land especially for commercial business,” Rebman said.

These concerns were raised in a letter to the city by the deputy attorney general, asking the city to identify whether or not the bike stations were within the boundaries of the trust property.

City Department of Transportation Services director Jon Nouchi said in a statement, “The city has determined that providing bike share in Kapiolani Park is an acceptable use of the park lands.”

Rebman says even though the bike share is a non-profit, she’s worried parking is being taken away in order for what she sees as a business being run on public land.

“If you have to pay to use that beyond the nominal fee to park users who currently have to pay for parking, and you were operating a business on park land that is excluding the public, and that’s our concern,” she said.

Photos: Chinese discard hundreds of cycles-for-hire in giant piles

read … Profitable nonprofit

Wahiawa Meth Addicts Take over Foreclosed Home, Assault Neighbors

HNN: Sandwiched between a couple homes off Ohai Street in Wahiawa is an encampment with a notorious reputation. Made up of junk cars, hidden beneath a canopy of tarps, it's so entrenched you can barely make out the house behind it.

Neighbors call it the 'Ice Palace.'

Despite nearby residents pleading for the city's help to clean it up, a mistake on paperwork is providing a legal challenge for all involved.

"There are new faces there all the time. It's usually to pick up drugs," said "Joe"

Fearful of retaliation, most residents agreed to talk only if we hid their identity, and for good reason. Neighbors haven't just been threatened - they've been the targets of violence.

"He assaulted me. He stabbed me," said Philip Lanzalotto.

Lanzalotto lives close by and used to feed the people living there.

Last year after witnessing a fight, he says one of the men living at the camp snatched a beer glass off his porch, broke it and stabbed him in the back.

"It was a couple inches deep. It took them three months to catch him. He stabbed me and ran away," said Lanzalotto.

Neighbors say they're constantly calling police. They've also complained to the city. Records show the building department has issued $20,000 in fines for violations related to the squatters.

"They take electricity, they take water, they take everything. Then they fight and argue and you're trying to sleep so you can get up and go to work. What can we do? Because it's not fair," said Lanzalotto.

Although the home is in the foreclosure process, a representative from the Atlanta based mortgage company Ocwen says it does not yet own the property. Because of that it cannot evict the squatters….

read … Homeless overrun Wahiawa lot with violence, drugs as city faces legal bump in cleanup

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