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Saturday, May 26, 2018
May 26, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:36 PM :: 1082 Views

Tupola Wins Three-Year TRO Against Internet Troll

Analyst: Hawaii Legislators are ‘F***ing Morons’

Elections: 350 Candidates Pull Papers -- 177 File

Hawaii Tax Revenue up 20.2% Since Great Recession

Hawaii 5th-Highest Beer Tax in USA

Kauai Fifth Circuit Seeking Per Diem District/Family Court Judge 

Rescuing the Lost Battalion –The Story behind the ‘Heroes’

Is this the end for geothermal energy in Hawaii?

PBN: …“It is a source of stable, cheap power,” Ted Peck, CEO of Honolulu-based Holu Energy told Pacific Business News. “[The Big Island] has 4,400 megawatts of potential capacity. There are plenty of places to get geothermal from, we just need to go and find some other ones.”

According to Hawaiian Electric’s website, additional geothermal energy resources may exist in West Hawaii and on Maui. Those possible sites have not been tapped due to a number of factors, including cost concerns, potential environmental impacts and public resistance….

The current situation surrounding Puna Geothermal is expected to further hurt geothermal’s public perception as a reliable and renewable energy resource.

“I don’t see a successful path forward for geothermal on this island in my lifetime,” Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Big Island-based ProVision Solar said. “PGV is gone for good, or bad depending on who you talk to.”

The state’s goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 has also been affected by the shutdown of the plant, which is owned by Nevada-based Ormat Technologies Inc. Big Island utility company Hawaii Electric Light Co., a subsidiary of Honolulu-based Hawaiian Electric, led all Islands with 57 percent renewable energy generation in 2017.

“HELCO’s renewable percentage will take a substantial hit and we’ll be more reliant on imported fuels at least in the near term,” Mangelsdorf said….

“This might be the end for geothermal in Hawaii,” Peck said. “Opponents of the technology will use the current situation to prevent future developments.”…. 

UPDATE: New Lava Flows Towards Geothermal Plant

(Translation: Rate Hikes Coming.  Thank a protester.) 

read … Is this the end for geothermal energy in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s Volcano Country, Where Land Is Cheap and the Living Is Risky

NYT: …While rattling people here who generally want little to do with mainstream culture, the destruction unleashed by Kilauea is also exposing fault lines in Hawaiian society, focusing scrutiny on the state’s severe housing shortage and the questionable land use regulations that governed the development of one of the Aloha State’s last bastions of affordable property.

Real estate speculators set their sights on the Big Island almost immediately after Hawaii became the 50th state admitted to the Union in 1959. By 1960, a developer had carved the area encompassing Leilani Estates, the now evacuated rural outpost overrun by lava flows in some areas, into more than 2,000 housing lots.

For many of those who continued to buy homes, the lure continued to be cheap housing in a tropical wonderland.

Hawaii has what may be the highest statewide home prices in the United States, with the median home value in the state at about $605,000, according to the housing website Zillow. And while the unemployment rate is low at around 2 percent, that figure obscures other problems. Hawaii had the highest cost of living of any state in 2017, according to the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, driven largely by housing prices. Zoning restrictions in parts of the archipelago and the use of private residences as vacation rentals constrict available affordable housing even further.

The result: Even though Hawaii’s economy seems to be strong, wage increases have trailed the climb in home prices, fueling an exodus of people from the state. For some who don’t want to leave, or for mainlanders seeking to move to Hawaii, the far-flung areas of the Big Island hold allure.

“We’re 40,000 housing units from anywhere near adequate to easing the need for places for people to live in Hawaii,” said Carl Bonham, an economist at the University of Hawaii. “That’s why Puna is an option no matter its remoteness or risks.”

Many homes in Puna are not built to code, or are built in zones where lava flows have already wiped out previous developments, which some residents attribute to the frontier mind-set here. Others, however, contend that public officials have not enforced existing regulations as strictly as they could have….

Many of the subdivisions in Puna were created in the 1960s before the first lava hazard maps, drawn in the mid-1970s, said Daryn Arai, deputy planning director for the County of Hawaii. 

(IQ Test: Do you believe they didn’t know the danger in the 1960s?)

“If we knew back then what we know now, things would probably be different,” Mr. Arai said. But he added that the county currently has no regulations that apply directly to lava flow hazard zones, aside from building codes that establish wind and seismic safety standards. Those generally apply, however, to how a house is constructed, not where it is built….

Related:

read … The New York Times

Look Closer At Why Homes Are Built In Lava’s Path

CB: …It’s questionable whether settlement should have been allowed, given the history at Royal Gardens and Kalapana. And does anyone remember when the state denied zoning for a high-end settlement over on the Milolii side of Mauna Loa, claiming it would be in the path of any Kona-side eruption of that volcano?

So why OK Leilani and others on the Kilauea side? And Puna Geothermal Venture? They are in the high-risk rift zone. The Milolii proposal was not.

Was that all about campaign money? Only Harold Matsumoto, former state planning director under Gov. John Waihee (and John, too), knows. Ask them. Please!

Our media keeps reporting on the immediate problems of shelter, insurance and health. That’s understandable….

If private insurance companies felt that area was too risky to insure, why did the state and the county feel otherwise?….

Related:

read … Look Closer At Why Homes Are Built In Lava’s Path

Trump Executive Orders Take Aim at Federal Employee Unions Blocking Cleanup of VA

NYT:  Mr. Trump signed three executive orders. The first makes it easier to fire and discipline federal employees…

The second executive order directs federal agencies to renegotiate contracts with unions representing government employees so as to reduce waste.

…The administration said it would also post union contracts online so that Americans could review its efforts to negotiate better deals with government workers.

The third order aims to cut down on “official time,” in which government workers who have roles in the union, like helping colleagues file grievances, are allowed to perform those roles during normal working hours for which they draw their usual salary. (An analogous concept exists for private-sector unions.) The order limits official time to 25 percent of their hours during the year.

Administration officials said a subset of federal employees had been able to spend as much as 100 percent of their duty hours on union business, and estimated savings of at least $100 million a year once the order is fully in effect.

Mr. Bremberg, the White House domestic policy official, said the actions would make good on the president’s call to “empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and remove those that undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

The executive order making it easier to fire poor-performing workers was an effort to expand on legislation that Congress enacted last year aimed at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which became embroiled in a scandalin 2014 over the extremely long waits that veterans were enduring for health care.

According to data collected by the American Federation of Government Employees, more than 1,600 workers have been removed under the provisions of the law passed last year, called the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.

“Today’s announcement shows a move toward accountability for poor performers and unions while increasing workplace equity for all the dedicated and hard-working government employees who have had to pick up the slack for far too long,” said Kent Lassman, president and chief executive of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group….

“When you learned that 97 percent of Justice Department donations went to Hillary Clinton, 99 percent of State Department donations went to Hillary, there are some reasons to believe a substantial number of people don’t want Trump to succeed,” Mr. Gingrich said. “Should the elected president of the United States have the ability to control the bureaucracy that actively opposed him?”…

ALG: Trump executive order ends union abuse of official time

read … The New York Times

Governments Haven't Had Rules for Revealing Their Private Debt -- Until Now

GM:  …A new rule is going into effect next month that many believe will shed light on a controversial spending area for state and local governments: how much they owe banks for private loans.

The rule, issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), lays out standards for reporting these loans in government financial reports. Unlike public debt -- which is issued through the municipal bond market and subject to regular disclosure requirements -- disclosures about direct loans from banks are not regulated. So, up until now, governments revealed as much -- or as little -- as they wanted about their private debt.

The lack of continuity has been a source of growing frustration, particularly as governments’ private debt rolls have ballooned. Since 2009, banks have more than doubled their municipal holdings to $536 billion in securities and loans.

Governments like the loans from banks because they come with lower costs and can be more convenient than going through the cumbersome public debt process. But observers worry that the terms of these loans aren't transparent enough, obscuring an important part of a government's financial health.

The new rule requires governments to include in their annual reports a statement called GASB 88 that will include not just the amount of money borrowed directly from banks but any unused lines of credit, any public assets pledged as collateral and any terms laid out in the lending agreement that could trigger early payment or financial penalties.

The rule goes into effect for government fiscal years that start after June 15….

read … Governments Haven't Had Rules for Revealing Their Private Debt -- Until Now

Hawaii County Bus System Audit Findings

BIN: …I need to ask at this point why any of you seem surprised that the recent audit found the person in charge of mass transit for much of the past 20 years ineffective, if not ethically compromised, in her duties??

Please check the files:

* Numerous riders & residents have tried working with Tiffany Kai regarding necessary bus system improvements without success — and usually without receiving even the courtesy of a reply to their communications as well — and they have been telling you this for years.

* Investigations into poor bus service and questionable monetary discrepancies under Ms. Kai’s management have been noted in the press for decades.

* The ex-marine consultant Mayor Kim recently brought in to help right the system let you know he was struggling with seemingly immovable inertia surrounding how things were done under Ms. Kai.

So it should be no surprise to anyone the recent audit found things like $30,000 cash fares dating back to July 2017 had not made it to the bank, & were instead lying around on a break room table, unsupervised.

Even high schoolers working at McDonalds know how to accurately, safely, courteously handle incoming cash + customer communications…

Yet the person you have allowed to oversee Big Island Mass Transit is a grown woman who at the very least — after 20 years on the job — does not exhibit the managerial, accounting, nor customer service skills needed to run anything as complex as the island’s public transportation service well…nor does she apparently have any inclination/motivation to learn.

This is inexcusable.

Why have you allowed it to continue for two decades?

We — the island’s concerned residents & riders of the Hele-On bus system — hold you: the county council, mayor’s office, and current/previous mass transit administrators RESPONSIBLE….

Related: Hawaii County Audit Finds Bundles of Cash in Breakroom

read … Bus System Audit Findings

Judge throws out one Maui sand-mining suit

MN: …A 2nd Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against Maui County, its Department of Public Works director and Maui Lani Partners on Friday over the extension of a grading permit for a development site in Kahului.

But Judge Joseph Cardoza did not dismiss the suit with prejudice, as requested by the county, meaning that the matter could resurface in court, perhaps in a related case.

That case remains pending in Environmental Court. It involves the same plaintiffs — Native Hawaiian group Malama Kakanilua with its members, Clare Apana and Kaniloa Kamaunu, against Maui Lani Partners. The plaintiffs maintain that the developers violated state historic preservation laws, county grading permits and county zoning laws while excavating and moving sand from Maui Lani’s phase 9 site. They worry that mining of Central Maui inland sand and excavation could threaten Native Hawaiian burials in the sand dunes. The county is not a party to this older lawsuit….

In his ruling, Cardoza said that having the public works director get consent or comment from the Historic Preservation Division for granting a permit extension is “not present under the law.”

He added that he believed the director also has the discretion to decide whether to grant a permit extension.

Cardoza also denied a plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

After the hearing, Public Works Director David Goode said in a phone interview: “We are obviously appreciative that the judge saw that we administered our grading permit extension properly. We understand the plaintiffs have concerns related to historical and cultural aspects of the property and those concerns need to be addressed with the state. We rely on the state historic preservation and the burial council to handle these concerns. That’s where the conversation needs to happen, not with the county issuing standard permit extensions.”….

read …  Suit

Settlement reached with family 5 years after police fatally shot man

HNN: …Hawaii News Now has learned that the city has paid $650,000 to the family of a mentally ill Waipahu man who was killed by police in 2013.

Taser camera video obtained from Honolulu Police shows one officer tasing 43-year-old Victor Rivera while another officer shoots at him 14 times. Nine rounds hit Rivera, killing him.

"I've seen a lot of bad stuff, but it was like they were shooting a dog," said Michael Green, attorney for Rivera’s family. "The first shot goes off not even a full second after they tased the guy. And they don't stop shooting."

Police were dispatched to Rivera’s home around 3:00 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2013 after receiving a dropped 911 call by a family member.

Green said Rivera was diagnosed as schizophrenic and had stopped taking his anti-depressant medication.

That night, Rivera had gotten into an argument with father, who didn’t want him to leave the house. The younger Rivera then threatened his father with a mango picker, or a tree saw.

The taser video shows that as police arrived, Rivera again grabbed the mango picker as he walked toward the officers….

read … Settlement reached with family 5 years after police fatally shot man

Ige Signs Bill Making Gay Conversion of Minors Mandatory

HNN:  …If a child molester turns your son gay, they get to keep him ‘til he’s 18….

Big Q: Do you agree with Hawaii’s new law banning “conversion therapy” to LGBTQ youths?

read … Not born that way

Volcano News:

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