Why OHA Needs to be More Transparent
Oahu: Lack of Wind Threatens Rolling Blackouts
Hawaii DoE: 10% of Students Consider Suicide Each Year
Lower cost of living to help teachers, everyone
Election Day Reminders
Design Flaws May Delay Rail’s Interim Opening Set For 2020
CB: …Canopies planned for the project’s nine westernmost stations have “constructability issues,” said HART’s executive director…..
Oahu’s station canopies were originally designed to represent the sails of the modern Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea, and they’re supposed to provide shade and shelter to waiting passengers.
However, cables and conduits that help operate the rail line must also pass through the arms of the canopies, Robbins said. If the canopies are delayed, that would postpone installation of rail’s communications systems as well….
Under HART’s most recent schedule estimates, the launch of the island’s full 20-mile, 21-station rail line won’t happen for another seven years — December 2025 at the earliest….
It’s not the first time the rail station canopies have caused headaches for rail officials. In 2016, the HART board approved a nearly $4 million change order to help cover design revisions to the elevated guideway after the canopies were added to the plan.
Officials realized that in heavy winds the canopies — like the sails they emulate — would create heavier loads. (Buncha geniuses.) The concrete-and-steel guideway would need to be able to handle them….
HART has repeatedly considered simplifying the canopy designs as a way to save some costs in the face of budget problems. (Talk is cheap.)
read … Design Flaws May Delay Rail’s Interim Opening Set For 2020
City will be using $214M of HGEA’s Property Tax Revenue to help pay for rail
KITV: For the first time ever, the city will be using its own general fund money to help pay for rail.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell made it official Thursday by signing Bill 42. The Federal Transit Administration has given the City a deadline of November 20 to come up with $44 million or risk losing some or all of its federal funding.
Mayor Caldwell was critical of the City Council for waiting until two days ago to pass Bill 42. The Mayor blamed budget chair Trevor Ozawa ….
“Mayor Caldwell, this is the third press conference at City Hall you have held in one week attacking Council member Trevor Ozawa and supporting Tommy Waters, a rubber stamp for your agenda. Enough already."…
KHON: The bill allows a maximum of $214 million to go towards the rail project.
read … City will be using its own general fund to help pay for rail
Too busy to spend money: Hawaii County crises boosted budget savings
WHT: …Hawaii County departments were so busy with natural disasters this year, they didn’t get a chance to spend all their budgets.
That’s according to Finance Director Deanna Sako, who told the County Council Finance Committee on Thursday that the county had almost $12 million left over from the fiscal year that ended June 30, plus another $15.3 million budgeted for the current year.
That’s much better than the $88,000 fund balance that was available in June 2017, Sako said. A low fund balance could hurt the county’s bond rating, resulting in higher interest rates on future borrowing.
“The departments didn’t have time to spend their budget and that pretty much benefited us,” Sako said. “We plan to utilize that to help us balance the next year’s budget.”
County employees’ usual work was redirected first during a lava emergency from the Kilauea eruption followed by a flooding emergency from Hurricane Lane.
Sako said after the meeting that she didn’t think county services suffered because of the spending shortage. Projects and equipment purchases may have been delayed, but departments are picking up where they left off….
read … Too busy to spend money: County crises boosted budget savings
HUD report: Hawaii sees fewer homeless veterans this year compared to last
HNN: Veteran homelessness in Hawaii has dropped by 13.5 percent since last year.
That’s according to a new report released Thursday by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.
The report said there are 532 homeless veterans statewide in 2018 — down from 615 in 2017.
More than 400 of the homeless veterans are in Honolulu. But that number is also down nearly 9.5 percent, according to the latest data.
HUD said the number of veterans who are homeless nationwide is down more than 5 percent….
read … HUD report: Hawaii sees fewer homeless veterans this year compared to last
Ballard: HPD Focusing on Mental Health of Street People
SA: …And we’re doing a lot more recruitment — we are even going out to (University of Hawaii). We have ads in the UH paper. We’re trying to hit the populations that wouldn’t even think about being a police officer because our job is so changed, in even the last five years.
Q: In what way, in particular?
A:We’re more into social services — I mean, with the homeless issues. People, if they can’t solve something, automatically they call 911, and it becomes a police issue. So officers now have to be psychologists, doctors, nurses, they have to be a specialist in DV (domestic violence). They have to know about mental illness, they have to know what social services are available.
They need to know how to talk to people who are upset and angry. … Before, you had to know a little bit about everything, but now you have to know a lot about even more stuff.
Q: Are you going to reach a point where it’s too much to expect of a police officer? How is the adjustment being made?
A: You’re right … they become a jack of all trades and a master of none. And we do need the generalist out there, you know, as the first responder.
Now what we’re doing is we’re trying to break away, like what we’re doing with HELP Honolulu — I affectionately call it my social services unit. …
We’re bringing in our crisis intervention teams, the training’s going to start in January. What happens is that the entire department over a two-year period of time is going to be trained in what we call mental health first aid…. (Since the entire island is being used as an insane asylum)
SA: Kokua Line: Must clear criminal check before joining police panel
read … Name in the News: Susan Ballard
Police Commission: Why Is It So Hard To Get A Permit To Carry A Gun In This City?
CB: …In the wake of a federal court decision challenging Hawaii’s restrictive gun laws, the commission wants a deeper look at HPD’s process for denying gun carry applications….
Police denied the applications of all 14 private citizens who applied for concealed weapon permits last year. That may change after a recent federal appeals court decision found Hawaii’s restrictive gun rules unconstitutional….
read … Police Commission: Why Is It So Hard To Get A Permit To Carry A Gun In This City?
State Supreme Court rules those who solicited prostitutes can wipe record
HNN: …Hawaii’s Supreme Court issued a ruling this week that eased the punishment for people who solicited prostitutes over a three-year period.
Under current state law, prostitutes and those who solicit prostitutes face the same punishment. But that was not the case for several years.
From 2013 to 2016, under a law supported by sex trafficking victim advocates, those who receive money for sex could get the charge cleared from their record — known as deferral.
But those who paid money for sex, often referred to as “johns,” couldn’t.
The ruling from the Hawaii Supreme Court says that’s not fair and “johns” should be able clear their records, too.
The ruling affects potentially scores of cases in which sex customers argued they should be entitled to deferral, and clean criminal records, just as prostitutes were.
The ruling points out that the legislature changed the law in 2016 so that the different penalties no longer apply….
read … State Supreme Court rules those who solicited prostitutes can wipe record
Report: DOE Has Mostly Fixed Flaws In Its Bus Transportation System
CB: …The State Auditor’s office found in 2012 that the DOE had an ineffective bus management system, too many routes and a broken procurement process that allowed transportation costs to climb while the department did nothing to address a lack of competitive bidding.
The DOE has implemented 17 of the auditor’s 19 recommendations related to its Student Transportation Services branch, according to a report released Thursday.….
read … Report: DOE Has Mostly Fixed Flaws In Its Bus Transportation System
Navy points finger of Red Hill fuel on human error, community uneasy over future problems
KITV: … Some people attending the annual Task Force meeting at the state capitol Thursday morning want the fuel tanks fixed while others want them out because it’s too close to an aquifer— a major drinking water supplier for residents from Moanalua to Hawaii‘i Kai.
The Navy insists the water has always been safe to consume, and will continue to be through their preventative and maintenance efforts. They added the fault for the 2014 leak wasn’t because of an old system, but blame it on human error.
Admiral Fort with the United States Navy Region Hawaii says the fuel released was the “one and only release to the public since the Clean Water Act of 1988,” and was due to “contractors error and poor oversight.”
The Navy assures it's taking extra steps to prevent future leaks, like double-walled linings, and installing new leak detection systems….
SA: Navy seeks to reassure water is safe from tanks at Red Hill
read …Navy points finger of Red Hill fuel on human error, community uneasy over future problems
“Extra”utility poles going away under $45M Hawaiian Telcom, HECO deal
SA: …Unnecessary utility poles are all over Hawaii because two companies that share most of them often disagree about their responsibilities. Now that problem has been resolved.
In a move that will eliminate 14,000 unsightly poles, Hawaiian Telcom agreed to let Hawaiian Electric Cos. have sole ownership of about 120,000 utility poles on Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
The agreement ends nearly a century of joint pole ownership between the electrical utility and its longtime partner that was once just a phone company.
Under the new arrangement, Hawaiian Telcom will lease pole space for its telephone, internet and TV transmission lines. In return, Hawaiian Electric will provide Hawaiian Telcom with a $48 million credit, though $26 million of that covers disputed past costs of jointly owning poles….
read … “Extra”utility poles going away under $45M Hawaiian Telcom, HECO deal
Policing Hawaii’s Illegal Vacation Rentals
HB: …Kauai and Maui counties have been more effective at eliminating illegal vacation rentals than Honolulu, where the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting estimates 8,000 to 10,000 vacation rentals operate on Oahu at any given time. The biggest challenge that Honolulu faces, according to DPP acting Director Kathy Sokugawa, is that an online listing is not enough to prove that an illegal vacation rental operation is occurring under the county’s existing laws.
“People think, ‘I can go on the Internet and find hundreds of these. Why can’t you control them?’ Because that’s just intent,” she says, not the actual act of doing something illegal…..
The law limits vacation rentals to resort areas like Waikiki, Sokugawa says. Outside of these areas, legal vacation rentals must meet certain criteria and receive special permission in the form of nonconforming-use certificates. The city stopped issuing these certificates in 1989-90, and today only 816 vacation rentals on Oahu have them. Any vacation rental located outside of resort areas without a nonconforming-use certificate is operating illegally.
Investigations of illegal vacation rentals in Honolulu are driven by complaints, says Wallace Carvalho, chief of the planning department’s customer service division. He has 19 inspectors, and from January to September of this year, they received 104 complaints, paid 2,042 visits to properties and issued 23 notices of violations. He adds that vacation rentals are not his inspectors’ primary focus; they also handle other zoning-related enforcement. For his inspectors, suspected illegal vacation rentals make up about 15 to 20 percent of all requests for investigation….
read … Policing Hawaii’s Illegal Vacation Rentals