Hawaii Braces for High Costs of Renewable Energy Mandates
Travel Ban: 9th Circuit Court Rules Against Trump (again)
Reso 17-199: Will Honolulu Council Back Rail Audit?
Rumors and Rage: When Good Conservation Sounds Bad
DoH Cancels Flu Vaccinations at Dozens of Oahu Schools and All Private Schools
Ponzi Scheme: Rep Beth Fukumoto’s ex-Husband Under FBI Investigation
HNN: Multiple federal agencies and state regulators have built cases around investment adviser and former head of the Hawaii Republican Party, (and ex-husband of Rep Beth Fukumoto) David Chang, sources tell Hawaii News Now.
Chang owns Chang Holding -- the parent company of several businesses, including his multi-million dollar investment firm, Wealthbridge Inc. which he says has 700 accounts all over the world.
Law enforcement sources say, over the past two years, the FBI and investigators with Homeland Security and the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs have investigated Chang after complaints that he misled clients by guaranteeing high returns.
One of those clients says Chang owes him $250,000.
"One day we got a knock at the door, and I mean just totally out of the blue, and it was somebody from the FBI," says a former investor….
the company they invested in, Just Black Holdings, or JBH….
another Chang Holding company -- Home Care Solutions…
At least one investor was willing to sue Chang, saying she put 175-thousand dollars in JBH in 2012, with the promise that she'd get 10% back two years later…. (Maybe it paid for Fukumoto wedding?)
By April of 2016, four years after the investment was made, she finally demanded her money back. That same month, sources say, Chang sent an email to his staff, which Hawaii News Now has obtained and confirmed it is part of the state and federal investigations.
(Fukumoto and Chang still married in April, 2016)
The email tells his employees that two, elderly sisters were collectively putting $238,000 in another Chang Holding company -- Home Care Solutions -- to pay, in advance, for their long-term health care.
The email appears to order the money to be divided into four parts, with $100,000 to JBH. Court records show, the woman who sued then got $100,000 from JBH, the same month. …
read … Fukumoto’s Husband
Rail: Tax Hike Bill may Have Unconstitutional Provision
HNN: …meddling state lawmakers slipped in a fiddle of their own. The Tax Foundation is suing the state over its 10% skim of the rail surcharge. The suit is still pending. But the legislature embedded in the new rail financing bill a provision concerning that. It says, if the state is ever ordered to pay that money back to the city, it will take the same amount from the city's share of the hotel tax. The Tax Foundation says the state constitution forbids making any county pay any previously accrued claim….
CB: From Rudderless To Driverless: A Rail Alternative
read … Business Report: The rail special session
Neighbor islands feel railroaded by Legislature
Cataluna: …Criticism of last week’s special session of the state Legislature continues to churn on the neighbor islands. This one isn’t slipping quietly into the books.
At issue is not only the vote to increase the hotel room tax at neighbor island hotels to help bail out Oahu’s rail project. There is anger over how the deal was reached, with allegations of private negotiations, backroom deals and little public input.
This week the Kauai County Council issued a salty rebuke of the Legislature with a resolution demanding that it, like all other governing boards in Hawaii, be subject to the Sunshine Law….
Resolution 2017-45 contained pointed language:
“Whereas the Sunshine Law describes the significance of holding meetings open to the public as ‘…opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest’ and whereas, despite the touted importance of holding meetings open to the public for all state and county boards, the Hawaii State Legislature is exempted from the applicability of the Sunshine Law, now therefore be it resolved that the council of the county of Kauai requests the Hawaii State Legislature to require itself to be subject to the Sunshine Law in its entirety and therefore equally accountable to protecting the public’s interest.”
So there. Boom….
MN: Maui legislators let Maui and the other Neighbor Islands down by allowing Honolulu’s controversial rail project to be passed.
KGI: Rail deal was, unfortunately, a necessary one
read … Neighbor islands feel railroaded by Legislature
Ige: I Have More Experience Running State than Hanabusa
HPR: …Governor David Ige was invited by the Exchange Club of Downtown Honolulu to report on the state of the state. He says Hawai’i is ranked as the healthiest and most livable state in the nation; has low unemployment; has created 14-thousand jobs; and is currently in the 6th consecutive year of record visitor arrivals and spending.
“Hawaiian Airlines is flying between Narita and Kona 3 times a week. In the first 6 months of this year, arrivals are up on the Big Island by almost 10 percent and, most importantly, visitor spending on the Big Island is up $500 million. And, Japan Airlines will be coming in with daily service to Kona in a week or so.”
The governor says tourism will likely continue to set records next year. He then talked about his administration’s accomplishments in returning public schools to the community; building 6 thousand affordable rental units; and providing permanent housing for the homeless. He was asked by luncheon attendees about his solutions for creating high paying jobs for Hawai’i’s youth and, finally, how he’s different from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who intends to challenge him in his bid for re-election.
“If you vote for me you are voting for a proven administrator and executive who understands the challenges of running the State of Hawai’i. And I kept the promises that I made to you three-and-a-half years ago in a real way.”….
read … Experience
Honolulu police chief candidates whittled down to top 9 after written test
KHON: …Police commissioners had a conference call with the consultants spearheading the process, who are based in Pennsylvania.
Applicants went through a written test first. Out of the 33 who applied, only 24 showed up to take it in Honolulu. (Nine pesky Mainlanders eliminated. After all what do they know about collecting kickbacks from gaming rooms?)
Candidates were scored based on their answers to topics important to Honolulu, addressing current problems in the community, how they’d respond, and how they’d work on the relationship between the department and the public.
Four former police chiefs — one from Hawaii and three from Pennsylvania — scored each test based on a variety of factors, like competency and teamwork (looking for use of tell-tale expressions so as to pick an insider.)
The consultants gave commissioners three choices moving forward: cut the list down to eight, nine, or 10.
Commissioners agreed to go with the consultant’s preferred choice of top nine, because they said the assessors firmly believed the new HPD chief would be within this group.
The commissioners looked at the scores, but each test was anonymous….
On Friday, the commission will alert the top nine candidates so they can make proper arrangements to be here on the last week of September for phase two, which is the assessment center.
“The next assessment is primarily local law enforcement types asking the questions, doing in-depth assessment. They’re going to do, I think it’s called a psychological matrix, a group thing. When that’s done, they’ll rank everyone. Then we’ll make one more cut,” explained Max Sword, the commission’s chairman. “When we do make that cut, the final, three, four, five, whatever that is, the names will be revealed.”
Sword says he isn’t sure yet how many candidates they’ll cut after the assessment center, but those top candidates will ultimately go to the commission, who will choose the chief. Those candidates will be revealed to the public.
The commission will give the public a chance to weigh in on who will be Honolulu’s next police chief sometime in the beginning of next month.
A new chief should be chosen by the end of the October.
HNN: Commissioner Loretta Sheehan expressed concern about cutting so many candidates without knowing more about them.
read … Honolulu police chief candidates whittled down to top 9 after written test
HCDA Admits Developer Scored Kalaeloa Solar Farm Without Public Input or Open Bidding
SA: After a six-year wait, the developer seeking to build a solar farm in Kalaeloa was rejected by the state agency responsible for managing the land.
Seven of the nine voting members of the Kalaeloa Authority within the Hawaii Community Development Authority voted Wednesday that their executive director may not enter into lease negotiations with SunStrong II LLC because a formal request for information was never sent out about the land. The developer was seeking to build a 5-megawatt photovoltaic farm on roughly 19 acres of land in Kalaeloa, north of the Kalaeloa Heritage Park….
The issue raised by the board members during discussion was that the board never sent out a formal request for information (RFI) to the public about that parcel. An RFI is designed to collect written information during the project planning phase….
Hayashida said the company began pursuing a solar facility after the former executive director of HCDA, Anthony Ching, asked the company to submit a proposal in 2011.
“We were actually asked by the executive director to submit a proposal,” Hayashida said, noting his company was the fifth in line until three others dropped out of the queue over time. “Aloha Solar (Energy Fund II) got their deal. We got moved up in the queue. We were the only two left.”
Aloha Solar Energy Fund II’s project is leasing HCDA land south of the parcel where SunStrong II was seeking to negotiate a lease.
HCDA approved Aloha Solar, a subsidiary of Burlingame, Calif.-based ECC Energy Solutions, to enter into lease negotiations with the agency’s director in March. Aloha Solar is planning to build a 5-megawatt solar farm on roughly 24 acres near Kalaeloa Airport….
“The lease would generate revenue for the Kalaeloa Revolving Fund and the revenue would be used on future infrastructure and preservation efforts in the district,” according to the staff report.
The 12-kilovolt line extension that SunStrong II was seeking to build to connect its solar project to Hawaiian Electric Co.’s grid could have provided opportunities for the different landowners in the Kalaeloa district to request service from HECO, and allow for the transition of the current Navy-owned electrical grid, according to the staff report.
SunStrong II secured $50 million in special-purpose revenue bonds from the state Legislature in 2016 to develop renewable energy projects in the state….
“I think doing a (request for information) is best practice,” HCDA Vice Chairwoman Mary Pat Waterhouse said before voting against the lease negotiations for the SunStrong II project.
HCDA board member Wei Fang said releasing a request for information would allow for a more transparent process.
“We show transparency and the opportunity to vet as a community,” Fang said.
BREG: SunStrong registered in 2014
read … State agency rejects Kalaeloa solar farm plan
Ige’s Incompetent Housing Dep’t Blows Deal for Hundreds of Affordable Units
SA: …Elizabeth Char, a Michaels development officer, said HPHA wanted to change terms in the development agreement and that working with the agency changed after Gov. David Ige’s administration, which includes Ouansafi, took over in 2014.
“When we entered into the contract, we thought that’s what we would follow,” she said.
Brandon Hegland, managing director of Michaels affiliate Interstate Realty Management Co., which manages the Towers at Kuhio Park, said Michaels was ready to start the second phase right after completing renovations to the towers.
Hegland said inaction by HPHA to start the second phase has wasted time in providing badly needed housing for low-income families and made the work 30 percent more expensive because of construction cost increases over the last several years.
According to a draft transformation plan for Kuhio Park in 2014, the first phase was successful in not only improving deplorable conditions in the two towers containing 555 apartments, but it reduced gang, drug and other criminal activity in the neighborhood through social service programs, community member engagement and better management.
“The seeds of optimism for the future have been planted,” the plan said.
The second phase, according to the draft plan, had two primary options. One would have added 503 new homes, including 452 affordable units and 51 market price units, at an estimated cost of $151 million. The other would have added 403 new homes with a largely undetermined mix at a cost of $121 million.
Kuhio Homes, which comprises 134 townhouse units, was built in 1953. The towers were built in 1962. Another 42 homes making up the low-rise component of the towers were added in 1965. The draft plan said the 176 units around the towers received improvements in past decades but don’t meet current building codes and have major structural and exterior deficiencies….
read … Incompetent
Contract dispute spurs 'chaotic' move of mentally ill youth from Queen's
HNN: …The hospital's Family Treatment Center cares for young people with mental illness, including violent behavior, post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Last Thursday, the families of five young patients were told they were being transferred to Kahi Mohala Sutter Health in Ewa Beach.
A day later, the youth went by ambulance, leaving parents reeling from the news.
The reason for the move: The contract between the state Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division and Queen's expired on Aug. 31, and no new deal could be made.
The Family Treatment Center has the 24 beds. The state contract was on the residential side and included eight beds.
The state says it paid Queen's $832 per bed each day -- and that Queen's wanted a 68 percent increase.
"What we proposed was moving from $832 to $915, which we felt addressed what we could afford to pay them," Fallin said.
The state says the contract's end did not discontinue any services provided to its 1,500 youth clients.
"When the contract ended, we did a lateral move to another service provider," said Scott Shimabukuro, assistant administrator of operations in the Child and Adolescent Health Division….
kids are often caught in the gap in care between crisis hospitalization and long-term facilities.,…
Queen's, meanwhile, is investing $8.1 million into its psychiatric ward….
read … Chaos
Hawaii County Foam container ban moves forward
HTH: A polystyrene food container ban took a big leap forward Thursday, when the County Council moved a bill to its final reading.
The council voted 7-2 to approve Bill 13 on first reading. A second reading will be held later this month.
The ban, which covers what is popularly known as “Styrofoam” plate lunch containers, coffee cups and soup bowls, has taken several forms over the past two years, overlapping two council terms, taking two trips to the Environmental Management Commission and discussed at length in two task forces.
“It’s a first step,” said Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, sponsor of the bill….
read … Stop Harassing the People
Experts raise state revenue forecast—State Taxes Suck $6.62B out of Economy
SA: …Economic experts tasked with forecasting Hawaii’s tax collections say the state’s revenue will grow at a slightly higher rate over the next two years, bringing in roughly $40 million more than previously expected.
The state Council on Revenues voted Thursday to revise its growth prediction for the current fiscal year to 4.3 percent from 4 percent, citing continued growth in the tourism and construction industries. That would put the state on track to collect more than $6.62 billion this year in taxes.
The council — whose members include economists, accountants and business executives — made the same upward adjustment for the year that begins July 1, revising its previous 4 percent growth forecast to 4.3 percent….
read … Growth