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Thursday, June 29, 2017
June 29, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:21 PM :: 1129 Views

Can Hokulea Crew Save Telescope?

OHA: Hot Air vs Fresh Air

Akina: Change OHA’s Current Spending Policy

DMV Computer Fixed After Phone Call to Bulgaria

Honolulu rail clearly a fiasco

Legislators should scrap idea of 'basic income' and just lower taxes

TH: The idea of a so-called guaranteed national income or “universal basic income” (UBI) has become fashionable as a way to address concerns about everything from wealth inequality to a future in which technology has run amok. It has the appealing simplicity of a bumper sticker: Everyone in society should be paid a cash grant from the government, enough to prevent any person from living in poverty.

And because it is fashionable, it should be no surprise that it has found traction in Hawaii. The Aloha State has a long tradition of adopting (or attempting to adopt) “cutting edge” legislation, regardless of how good a fit it might be for a small island state in the middle of the Pacific. There are few social and political experiments that don’t get at least a hearing in the Hawaii Legislature.

This year, the legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 89, which directed the state to convene a working group to study the feasibility of both a full and partial universal basic income.

The resolution itself is full of references to automated cars and retail checkout lines, doctors being replaced by smartphones, and other technological advances that it alleges will “soon” displace human workers. Like a fever dream concocted from YouTube videos and threads from the /Futurology subreddit, it's a vision of a dystopian future that convinced enough Hawaii legislators (almost all of them, actually) to consider researching UBI as a way to address the human fallout of technological advancement….

LAT: The case for a universal basic income

read … Basic

Greenmail Fail: Time Running out for Telescope

NPR: …Originally, the telescope was to be built on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, but construction halted in 2015 after Native Hawaiians sued….

The TMT team has a backup location in Spain’s Canary Islands, and in mid-May, a group of Canadian scientists issued a report examining the costs of switching sites. As Space.com senior writer Michael Wall explains, the substitute spot isn’t a clear win, either — it’s considerably lower in elevation than Mauna Kea.

“It's about 6,000 feet lower, actually,” he says, “which means that if you build the telescope there it has to peer up through a lot more atmosphere, and that makes it a lot harder to actually see into space.”

If the telescope is built in the Canary Islands, scientists could install adaptive optics to lessen the blurring caused by all that extra atmosphere, he explains. But even then, success isn’t a sure thing: “It's still possible that ... won't be able to totally counteract the atmospheric effects,” he says. “There's a reason why the Hawaii place was a scientifically preferred site in the first place, and so they would still hope to build it there.”

Given the telescope’s requirements, the dry, high elevations of the Chilean Andes would be another option — but two gigantic telescopes, the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope, are already being built in the area.

“What they’d really like is [to] have one in the Northern Hemisphere, which will be able to do different parts of the sky and therefore different objects,” Wall says, “and also link up with a bunch of the Northern Hemisphere telescopes, so that they can perform similar studies on similar parts of the sky.”

“They don't want to put all of the giant megascopes on Earth in the same little patch of Southern Hemisphere to look at the same part of the sky.”

Given the variables, it could be a while yet before the telescope finds its footing. “We're expecting to hear a new ruling about whether [Mauna Kea] construction can actually go forward in the next couple of months,” Wall says. “But nobody really knows, and nobody knows if there will be a challenge after that judgment is handed down.”

Soon, however, the Thirty Meter Telescope will simply need a home — wherever that may be. “They would ideally like to start construction by spring of 2018,” Wall says….

read … Greenmail Fail

HB165: Sunshine Law Modernized

CB: …The Sunshine Law reform bill, House Bill 165, was not on the veto list.

That means, effective July 1, 2018, government boards must timely post agendas and minutes on the Internet. Members of the public may ask that agendas be e-mailed directly to them when posted. And no one will be harassed for videotaping a public meeting.

In short, our Sunshine Law will embrace modern life….

read … Hawaii Is Finally Letting The Sun Shine In

State Supreme Court says subs, part-time teachers aren't entitled to back pay

HNN: …The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the teachers weren't entitled to back wages from 2000 to 2012, reversing a lower court's decision.

Some 28,000 teachers in two class action suits were seeking $56 million.

The decision ends more than a decade of litigation on the claims.

The state previously paid more than $14 million in back wages to substitute teachers, and argued it did not owe back wages to part-time teachers or interest on back wages already paid….

PDF: Kawashima opinion

read … State Supreme Court says subs, part-time teachers aren't entitled to back pay 

Maui officer pleads guilty over witness-tampering

SA: …A Maui police sergeant says he took part in a scheme with another officer and a third person to bribe a witness who accused the other officer of stealing $1,800 from him.

Walter “Kepa” Ahuna, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit witness tampering. He faces a maximum 20-year prison term at sentencing in November.

Ahuna remains free on $25,000 unsecured signature bond. As of Wednesday, Ahuna was still employed by the Maui Police Department but faces a likely administrative investigation….

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake said in court Wednesday that on Sept. 30, 2015, Maldonado stole money from a motorist at a traffic stop. The motorist reported the alleged theft to Maui police, who arrested Maldonado then released him pending further investigation. The federal court record says Maldonado stole $1,800.

Following his arrest, Maldonado met with Ahuna and Kaina and told them his wife had received some money that could be used to bribe the motorist to withdraw the complaint, Otake said. Their plan was to persuade the motorist to tell police that he found the missing $1,800. When Ahuna warned them that the plan was against the law, Kaina offered to take the blame and say it was his idea, Otake said.

She said Kaina went to the motorist’s home on Oct. 13, 2015, and handed over money.

Maui police arrested Maldonado and Kaina two days later. Maldonado was released but placed on administrative leave without pay. County officials say he was fired last year. He has not been charged….

read … Maui officer pleads guilty over witness-tampering

Homeless Drug Addicts Threaten to Burn Down Building

WHT: …“We have a steady stream of homeless coming past our door,” said Tess DeMarco, owner of Tess’s Table Arts and Crafts Workshop in the Old Kona Industrial Area. “Just a week and a half ago a group congregated out front. My husband very nicely asked them to move on and they became abusive. They threatened to burn down our building.”

DeMarco said she’s concerned about what the homelessness conundrum in Kona means for the future of her business, and while she acknowledged the panelists’ attempts to answer her questions, she also said they “tiptoed around the topic.”

“Them offering to educate us on how to clean up the mess the homeless make does not help my situation when it’s all about the first impression,” she said. “I deal in families with little children. To have someone out front cracked out on heroin is intimidating. One bad review is the death of a business.” ….

police say the area can become dangerous.

Talasko and her teammates spoke of witnessing domestic violence and encountering drug paraphernalia in the park on a regular basis.

“It’s definitely a safety concern, and we try to leave as a group,” she said….

Hawaii County Assistant Housing Administrator Lance Niimi, who was also a part of Tuesday’s panel, addressed the homeless situation at the park.

As he has several times in recent months, Niimi referenced a land swap between the county and Queen Liliuokalani Trust that would allow the temporary relocation of the park’s homeless to (a gigantic festering homeless tent city in a) lot above the intersection of Henry Street and Palani Road.

Some homeless, however, have told Niimi personally they aren’t interested in moving out of the park or into permanent housing.

Police and service providers say those individuals tend to struggle more with substance abuse and mental health issues. They are less amenable to traditional strategies to end homelessness and also tend to pose the greatest threats to park goers and adjacent businesses….

read … Heroin

Tweekers Breed Puppies in Homeless Camp

HNN: …Society employees say they've been visiting the camp near the Keehi Transfer Station for the past year and a half, and now know why many homeless pet owners have been refusing sterilization services for their dogs.

"We have puppy mill situations where they are in horrible conditions. They clean them up and groom them and then sell them," said Harold Han, field services manager for the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Puppies from the camp were surrendered by the armfuls Tuesday to the humane society.

Teams left the camp with 16 puppies and five adult dogs, but with as many as 80 dogs living there, they are expecting to take in more.

HNN: City crews to sweep homeless encampment near Keehi Transfer Station

read … Money to buy Meth

Bike sharing hits Oahu roads (and not everyone is happy about that)

HNN: …The bikes cost $3.50 to use for half an hour. There are also half-day and day rates.

And a lost or stolen bike will cost you $1,200 -- automatically charged to your credit card….

The bikes have no tracking system, but a separate company will handle operations issues, like damage, theft and maintenance.

"We are also responsible for the customer service side. We handle all that on the back end," said Kelvin Tjia, Secure Bike Share CEO. "There is a toll free number that is available on the bikes and the carts."

The launch of the program hasn't come without some frustration. There's even been a protest….

The state and city granted Biki Bikeshare Hawaii, a non-profit, about $2 million in seed money and it has five major donors recognized on the bikes….

KITV: BIKI Bikes: Safety and signs among launch concerns

read … Not Happy

Citing liability, HEMIC cancels worker's comp plans for 7 marijuana dispensaries

HNN: …HEMIC said it opted to drop the dispensaries after a legal evaluation of state and federal law.

“HEMIC has received two outside legal opinions regarding its role in providing workers’ compensation coverage to Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries," said HEMIC CEO Marty Welch, in a news release.

"These legal opinions clearly acknowledge that HEMIC and its board of directors have potential exposure for criminal liability based on federal law applicable to marijuana businesses. After receiving these legal opinions, the HEMIC board has voted unanimously to discontinue these policies and fully refund all premium payments to any dispensaries currently insured by us."….

read … Citing liability, HEMIC cancels worker's comp plans for 7 marijuana dispensaries

Usual Suspects: Hawaii Would Collapse Without Illegal Aliens

HPR: …The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are about 21,000 undocumented immigrants living in Hawai‘i. The PEW Research Center says this number could be as high as 45,000. …

“They’re about 4.6 percent of the workforce—undocumented people—in the state of Hawaiʻi.  One estimate is that they pay about $51 million in state and local taxes.  That includes state income taxes, and it includes property taxes, as well as sales taxes.”

A recent report by PEW Research Center says immigrants are crucial to the U.S. workforce…

Nov 13, 2016: Hawaii: Only 405 ‘Dreamers’ Apply for Legal Status under DACA

read … Hawaiʻi and Undocumented Immigrants: Part 1

Kauai: Hanabusa, Gabbard Block Immediate Deployment of Aegis Ashore

SA: The House Armed Serv­ices Committee approved a defense amendment Wednesday that would safeguard continued missile testing on Kauai and assess the effectiveness of a new medium-range radar before taking additional steps to protect Hawaii from North Korean threats such as activating the Aegis Ashore facility.

A difference of opinion has emerged between advocates of activating Kauai’s Aegis Ashore missile testing facility for the defense of Hawaii, and those who think it would interfere with missile testing functions at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa introduced an amendment to the House’s $696.5 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act saying the secretary of defense “shall protect the test and training operations of the Pacific Missile Range Facility and assess the siting and functionality of a discrimination radar for homeland defense throughout the Hawaiian Islands before assessing the feasibility of improving the missile defense of Hawaii by using existing missile defense assets.”

Hawaii’s two House members, Hanabusa and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, both of whom serve on the House Armed Services Committee, issued a joint statement on the missile defense amendment’s “sequenced approach.”….

The amendment also calls for the Missile Defense Agency to test and evaluate within 270 days the capability of the new SM-3 Block IIA missile to defeat a simple intercontinental ballistic missile threat….

Pentagon plans to have the medium-range radar in Hawaii fully operational after 2023 “would leave the defense of Hawaii dependent only on (Alaska defensive missiles and the floating Sea-Based X-Band ‘golf ball’ radar) until that time, while the threat to the United States, including Hawaii, from North Korean ballistic missiles continues to grow,” Thornberry’s report states.

That current ballistic missile protection for Hawaii from ground-based interceptors in Alaska and the SBX radar provides “limited” defense, the “chairman’s mark” states..,..

Related: Military Industrial Complex Compromising Hawaii Missile Defense for Profit

read … U.S. House panel votes to protect Kauai missile tests

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