Finally! OHA Is Being Audited for Fraud, Waste and Abuse
Food Waste Recycling Program Makes Pigs Happy--But Costs City at H-Power
HSTA Operatives Set School Protest in Push to Tax Renters
Honolulu Make-A-Difference Month cleanups start this weekend
HART Board Legally Ambiguous, Barely Able to Function, Can’t Figure Out How Many Members it Has
SA: …For the past year, the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has had difficulty holding votes or taking any other action during meetings because of an ongoing struggle to maintain what it perceives to be a quorum, the number of board members needed to conduct business….
HART board Chairman Damien Kim said the issue has even hampered the board’s ability to hold a meeting.
“Every meeting is a challenge,” he said.
On Thursday, Kim had to re-order the items posted on the 8 a.m. agenda to put more critical business up front and done by 10:30 a.m. because member John Henry Felix was absent and member Terri Fujii had to leave after two-and-a-half hours. Those critical agenda items included the controversial, project-shifting decision to find a private partner to help construct the remaining portions of the rail line.
A proposed amendment to the Honolulu City Charter that’s before voters on the General Election ballot would state clearly that six members are needed to hold a vote and that six members are needed to constitute a quorum.
The problem arose last fall when the number of HART board members was increased to 14 from 10 by the state Legislature as a condition of Act 1, which granted HART a $2.4 billion bailout package to deal with the project’s escalating costs….
City officials believe that it’s unclear if the four members added by Act 1, a state initiative, are legally on the board because HART and its board were formed under the Honolulu Charter. If the ballot question doesn’t pass, that ambiguity continues, they said….
ILind: The whole process is focused on the balance of political power
ILind: The “solution” proposed by the city further seems clumsy.
read … Oahu voters asked to solve HART board members dilemma
DoE Pushing to Tax Low Income Hawaii Renters—Gives Big Fat Pay Hike for top DOE Execs
WHT: …The new pay range for deputy superintendent will be $155,000 to $180,000 per year, assistant superintendents pay range will be $145,000 to $175,000 per year and complex area superintendents will earn between $135,000 to $170,000 per year….
According to DOE communications director Lindsay Chambers, the current median salary of executive level superintendents is $143,760 and their last pay raise was in 2017.
“The deputy superintendent oversees the department’s 15 complex areas and numerous special projects. There are seven assistant superintendents that oversee each HIDOE office,” she said….
Currently, there are 19 positions, not covered by a collective bargaining unit that would be impacted by the proposed pay increase….
read … School executives to see pay hike
$600K Campaign Against HSTA Rent Tax
CB: The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii has donated $600,000 to a new political action committee created to oppose a ballot measure that seeks to tax investment properties to raise money for public education, according to the group’s president.
The money given to the Affordable Hawaii Coalition PAC is a counterpunch to the half-million dollars the teachers’ union has already amassed for its own PAC to support the proposed constitutional amendment….
The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which represents 13,700 teachers, formed a ballot issue committee called HSTA for Schools Our Keiki Deserve to back the ConAm measure.
As of Monday, the filing deadline for campaign finance reports covering Aug. 12 to Sept. 26, the group was sitting on $519,000 after spending almost $27,000, mostly on consulting services and mailers.
HSTA put the bulk of the money in the pot, but had received $100,000 before the primary from its parent affiliate, the National Education Association.
SA: Chamber of Commerce Hawaii donates $600,000 to help fight tax ballot measure
read … Chamber Of Commerce Pours $600K Into Fighting School-Funding Measure
Mayor claims City Council is trying to stall efforts to move homeless from parks, sidewalks
HNN: …In an attempt to bolster current laws, the mayor proposed Bill 51 and Bill 52, which would outlaw obstructions on sidewalks and make it illegal to live on a sidewalk or any other public areas if shelter is available.
But even if the bills are passed, it could be a while before they’re actually enforced.
“The unfortunate thing is that council members have linked a report before these bills become effective,” said Caldwell. “The report requires the city and county of Honolulu to submit a comprehensive, inclusive report on how we’re dealing with homelessness in each of the nine council districts.
"Until they approve that report by resolution these bills are ineffective.”…
The legal director of ACLU Hawaii also questions the bills constitutionality.
“Our concern is these types of bills what they’re doing is criminalizing everyday innocent behavior. Things like sitting down on a sidewalk. Trying to find a place to sleep at night,” said Mateo Caballero. (He forgot tweeking.)
The mayor said a lawsuit is a possibility, but added he believes the city has worked hard to get the law right.
“People sue us on a regular basis. So will lawsuits be filed? Perhaps. Do we have a strong defense? Absolutely. I think we’ve written it as well as we possibly could,” Caldwell said.
The bills go before City Council on Wednesday for a final vote….
SA: Beach park in Makaha closed for 7 weeks for maintenance, city says
read … Mayor claims City Council is trying to stall efforts to move homeless from parks, sidewalks
Homeless Shelter Opens at Underused HYCF
CB: …Cows graze lazily on the 400-acre Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua. Its population has dwindled over the last 10 years, but for four months now young people have been coming here of their own volition.
“We’re about a mile away from the closest bus station and kids are walking with suitcases and backpacks all the way to our property,” said Warden Mark Patterson, who oversees the facility.
They’re trying to get to Residential Youth Services and Empowerment, a homeless shelter for people ages 18 to 24 that opened four months ago on the correctional facility grounds.
Past an unmanned guard shack and behind a maze of fences, RYSE holds 10 beds for women and 10 more for men. Homeless teens under 18 can’t stay overnight – the state has a special protocol for minors – but they’re free to come by from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
RYSE is the only shelter of its type on Oahu. …
Publicly funded homeless services across the state served 807 unaccompanied people under age 24 from July 2016 to June 2017, according to a report by the University Hawaii at Manoa Center on the Family and the state Department of Human Services. Almost all of them – 93 percent – were ages 18 to 24….
Houser modeled RYSE after Janus Youth Programs in Portland, Oregon. The shelter’s tiered system, in which participants move up from cots to their own bedroom as they take on more responsibilities, contrasts with the Housing First model embraced by local and state officials, which aims to identify chronically homeless people and quickly get them into permanent, supportive housing….
At 22, Marino Espinoza is the first and only person to graduate from RYSE. After eight years in and out of homelessness, Espinoza now holds down three jobs and lives in a studio in Kaimuki.
Being forced to earn her keep at RYSE and having adults to hold her accountable helped the already motivated Espinoza make the transition to independent living….
In a 2018 survey of 151 homeless or formerly homeless people 12 to 24 years old on Oahu, 77.5 percent reported they had experienced sexual, emotional or physical abuse. Almost half had experienced homelessness first with their families and 40 percent had been in foster care, according to the study by the UH Center on the Family and local nonprofits Hale Kipa and Waikiki Health.
There’s a 17-person waiting list for a men’s bed at RYSE. Some people on the list slept along the fence bordering the property. Women’s beds are more difficult to fill because many young women who live on the streets link up with a man, and going to RYSE would mean leaving him.
Many young people are reluctant to go to homeless shelters designed for single adults.
“They get into the front door, they see these older people, some of them not smelling all that great, they see the mat on the ground, they see the bedbugs and they’re like, ‘Hell no. I’d rather be on the street.’ And I personally don’t blame them,” Miyashiro said….
Of 537 unaccompanied people ages 18- 24 years old who used homeless services in a one-year period, the UH Center on the Family report found that just 26 percent exited into permanent housing….
read … From Capri Suns To Resumes: Meeting The Needs Of Homeless Young People
Latest game room shootings has some state lawmakers pleading for tougher enforcement
KITV: …The latest string of game room shootings has some state lawmakers pleading for tougher enforcement - two of those shootings happened in Kalihi.
"Enough is enough." Representative John Mizuno is worried innocent lives are at risk in his district.
Sunday night's shooting is the third incident reported at an illegal game room within a week.
"It's god awful and scary to me," Mizuno said.
Mizuno is stunned by the sudden rash of gunfire and bloodshed on Oahu, much of it in his district in Kalihi. There's been a common thread emerging, several violent crimes have been linked to illegal game rooms.
Residents are taking notice.
"There are people in the community that are quite upset asking that more needs to be done... If we want our district back, we need to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement please call it in," Mizuno said.
Mizuno says illegal game rooms have been a problem for years in Kalihi. Some right in the middle of residential neighborhoods. There are concerns innocent bystanders could get caught in the crossfire….
read … Latest game room shootings has some state lawmakers pleading for tougher enforcement
Soft on Crime: Out on Bail Gets ‘Second Chance’ to Shoot Same Victim
SA: …A 22-year-old man charged in the shooting death of a 40-year-old man in Haleiwa allegedly shot the same man in an altercation four months ago, according to court documents….
Police said McCandless drove past a group of males in an area known as “Monuments” at Haleiwa Beach Park with his two juvenile sons about 12:45 a.m. Saturday when he recognized one of the males, later identified as Kanae, as the same man that shot him in an altercation on May 15.
McCandless turned around, parked his vehicle at Monuments while his two sons stayed in the vehicle.
Police said he approached Kanae and shoved him. A fight broke out after Kanae allegedly punched McCandless and two unknown males jumped in and attacked McCandless.
Police said Kanae and the two others continued to assault McCandless after he fell to the ground….
Court documents said McCandless’ son recognized Kanae from a photo he saw on social media months ago when “McCandless explained to him that Kanae was the person that had shot him earlier this year.”
The victim’s son called 911 and attempted to administer first aid to his father. McCandless was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital where he later died.
Kanae and his two companions fled in a gray Acura.
Police arrested Kanae in Wahiawa about 4:25 a.m. that morning.
Court records show he was free on bail at the time of the deadly shooting on a $50,000 bond in connection with a robbery in Waikiki.
Police said a male suspect later identified Kanae allegedly “pistol-whipped” a man with a .25 caliber handgun while another male held the victim in a chokehold at a parking lot on Lauula Street about 3:50 a.m. on Aug. 11.
Kanae and the other perpetrator demanded money. Police said the suspect who held the victim in a chokehold took his backpack, which contained about $800 in cash.
Officers immediately responded and arrested Kanae, Richard L. Fields and Terrence Legrande in the parking lot.
At the time of his arrest, police recovered a gun and small, clear plastic bags that appeared to contain marijuana and cocaine in Kanae’s possession.
Police recovered the backpack at the scene of the arrests.
An Oahu grand jury indicted Kanae on charges of first-degree robbery, promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree and two firearm-related charges.
The grand jury also indicted Richard L. Fields, 24, on a charge of first-degree robbery and Legrande, also 24, on a charge of second-degree theft and promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree.
The robbery trial for the three men is tentatively scheduled to be held in January at Circuit Court….
read … Soft on Crime
Two Hawaii Counties Add Local Charge To State Excise Tax
L360: …Starting next year, Kauai County, Hawaii, will add a 0.5 percent county surcharge to the state’s general excise tax rate and Hawaii County will add a 0.25 percent local charge…
read … Two Hawaii Counties Add Local Charge To State Excise Tax
Council plays waiting game as Ruggles won’t return
WHT: Faced with the curious case of a County Council member who refuses to vote or sponsor bills, county legislative leaders want more teeth added to local laws to require elected officials perform to stricter standards.
At issue is Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, who abruptly announced at an Aug. 21 council meeting she wouldn’t be participating in legislation until county lawyers assure her she won’t be committing war crimes against the Hawaiian Kingdom by doing so. She was instructed she can’t sit at the dais if she’s not going to vote….
Honolulu council rules, for example, allow members by a two-thirds vote to censure their colleagues or suspend them without pay for disorderly or contemptuous behavior. Maui County has similar provisions, she said.
Poindexter asked the Charter Commission at its Sept. 14 meeting in Kona to consider charter amendments to give the council more options.
“It’s not going to help the situation right now, but it will help in the future,” Poindexter said. “There is currently no consequences to hold their feet to the fire.”
The council can change its rules at any time by a two-thirds vote, but the rules must adhere to the county charter.
Most of the options available to the public or the council, such as impeachment and recall, would take longer than the remainder of Ruggles’ term. The public also has the option of filing an ethics complaint, but no one has done so.
Poindexter has refused Ruggles’ request to hire a council aide to fill the position recently vacated by one of Ruggles’ two staffers. The committee vice chairwomen have picked up most of the load for the Public Safety and Mass Transit, and Public Works and Parks and Recreation committees….
Ruggles is not using her council contingency fund, meaning she will leave an extra $15,000 in the account when her successor, Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, takes over Dec. 3. Council members are scheduled to get $30,000 each this year to spread around their districts, but they must write legislation to do so.
Some of that money had already been committed to constituent groups, including those supporting Native Hawaiian causes, said Nelson Ho, Ruggles’ legislative assistant.
“They were bummed, but they understand why she did it,” Ho said….
read … Council plays waiting game as Ruggles won’t return
Facts, not fear, drive investments, improvements at Red Hill
SA: …In January 2014, Tank 5 at the Red Hill Fuel Facility experienced a release of 27,000 gallons of fuel due to a contractor’s error and an ineffective response and oversight.
Since then, under an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with regulators — the Environmental Protection Agency and Hawaii Department of Health — we have spent $45.3 million to improve the facility and protect the environment. Since 2006, the Department of Defense has invested $260 million to upgrade and improve Red Hill. At the same time, we are fiscally responsible, recognizing that spending taxpayer money on the most expensive option is not the best solution.
Among our initiatives, we invest in a rigorous, ongoing clean, inspect and repair maintenance program. Each tank is inspected and repaired every 20 years strictly following the industry standard set by the American Petroleum Institute (API).
In June, the Navy began work to validate the effectiveness of the non-destructive examination (NDE) processes for identifying areas within a tank in need of repair.
This work began with the Navy, along with EPA and HDOH, reviewing the data from a tank in the middle of its maintenance program — Tank 14 — to identify and collect samples, called “coupons,” from the tank’s steel liner. Among the samples deliberately selected were some from several different areas within the tank suspected of having back-surface corrosion as evidenced by wall thinning from the NDE.
Contrary to some media accounts, the findings were not inconsistent with what was expected. Upon removal of the coupons, some of the locations predictably had corrosion and suspected thinning. However, the study is not yet complete. Results of a detailed laboratory analysis are expected at the end of October.
Drawing conclusions in the middle of a study from preliminary samples removed from the empty tank misinforms public understanding and compromises the integrity of the process.
Extrapolating incomplete information and applying a worse-case-scenario for all tanks at Red Hill unnecessarily creates fear. It also undercuts the important ongoing work to safeguard our water and our security in Hawaii….
read … Facts, not fear, drive investments, improvements at Red Hill