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Friday, February 15, 2019
February 15, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:00 PM :: 1509 Views

Last Day to Register as Candidate: 2019 Neighborhood Board Elections

U.S.-build rule deters ocean cargo service to Hawaii

Honolulu GOP Chair Brett Kulbis Running for Reelection

12,000 Leave Hawaii: Five Can Bring Them Back

INRIX: Honolulu Traffic Congestion Costs $1282 per Driver 

Charting a New Course For Hawaii Tourism

Feds subpoena Honolulu rail authority for construction documents

SA: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has been served with a sweeping federal subpoena seeking construction documents in connection with the $9.2 billion rail project, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.

The Star-Advertiser reported in December that federal authorities were taking an interest in the project, but it is still unclear exactly what aspect of rail has triggered the investigation.

HART CEO Andrew Robbins declined to discuss the subpoena when asked about it this morning at a committee meeting of the HART board, but a source said the subpoena covers all construction records for the rail project as well as all records that HART provided to the Hawaii State Auditor….

State lawmakers approved a $2.4 billion financial bailout of the rail project in 2017, and as part of that package also instructed the auditor to scrutinize the management and other aspects of rail, which is wildly over budget. The auditor has released two reports that were critical of rail thus far and is expected to release two more installments later this year….

HART documents show the budget for professional services such as engineering, project management and construction management for rail ballooned from $1.183 billion in 2012 to more than $2.08 billion today.

Another budget category called “sitework and special conditions,” which includes utility relocation work, increased from $1.1 billion in 2012 to more than $2.54 billion today….

Last month the HART board of directors unanimously approved a recovery plan that maps out the path to completion of the project by 2025 or 2026. That plan has been submitted to the FTA for its review….

read … Feds subpoena Honolulu rail authority for construction documents

Federal subpoena could affect rail funding

SA: … Rail officials were hoping the federal government would release more federal funding this month to help finance rail construction, but it is uncertain whether that will happen now that the rail authority is entangled in a federal investigation….

State House Speaker Scott Saiki said he suspects the Federal Transit Administration will now delay any decision about releasing additional federal funding for the rail project.

“This investigation absolutely raises red flags about the project. At this point I’m not sure what the scope of the investigation is, but it is troubling that the federal authorities are involved,” Saiki said. “It’s clear that the city needs to begin to make contingency plans in the event that it loses revenue or doesn’t receive sufficient revenue.”…

The most recent report released by the auditor tallied up more than $354 million in delay claims and change orders, and blamed much of that cost on prematurely awarded rail contracts. Since then HART has agreed to pay contractor Ansaldo Honolulu JV an additional $160 million to settle yet another delay claim, bringing the total to more than $514 million.

The FTA has agreed to provide $1.55 billion to help finance the city’s rail project but has withheld nearly $744 million of that money until HART develops an acceptable “recovery plan” for rail.

That recovery plan was submitted to the FTA last fall and assumes the FTA will authorize the city this month to resume drawing down federal funds, but that hasn’t happened yet.

“Should the authorization occur later than February 2019, additional debt may need to be to be issued” to cover the cost of ongoing construction, according to the recovery plan. The HART plan assumes the city will receive $100 million in federal funding this year.

If that federal funding is delayed or reduced and the project runs short of cash again, “I really do not believe the city is in a position to return to the Legislature to request additional funding,” Saiki said Thursday. “I cannot see the Legislature in good conscience approving an additional funding request while an investigation is pending at the federal level.”

A spokesman for HART did not respond to questions about whether the FTA has been informed of the subpoena or whether federal funding for the project might be affected….  

read … Federal subpoena could affect rail funding

Impeach Delay: Businessman Launches New Petition Drive To Oust Kaneshiro

CB: …Yoshimura gathered 864 signatures on Change.org and submitted them to the 1st Circuit Court, but said Thursday he’s now getting signatures the old-fashioned way with pen and paper to ensure the names are certified….

read … Businessman Launches New Petition Drive To Oust Kaneshiro

Fasi Case Gives Precedent for AG’s actions on Kaneshiro

SA: … Bill McCorriston, is incorrect when claiming there is no precedent for the attorney general’s petition seeking his suspension. The attorney general cited cases I argued before the Hawaii Supreme Court in the 1970s successfully removing the prosecuting attorney from investigating his boss, Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, in the Kukui Plaza case.

The law enforcement authority of the prosecutor, the Supreme Court ruled, was derived from the attorney general. We will soon learn if the Supreme Court deems that law still valid….

read … Michael Lilly

Hawaii rights group upset over hundreds of missing pieces of testimony

HNN: … A Hawaii gun rights group is planning to file an ethics complaint after they discovered nearly 700 pieces of testimony emailed to a Senate committee were missing from the legislature’s records last week. The messages were submitted to the Senate Public Safety Committee’s email address for five bills relating to guns.

"People were upset. These people had gone through the process of submitting testimony. Some of them pretty lengthy," said Andrew Namiki Roberts, director of the Hawaii Firearms Coalition.

Wearing a body camera, Namiki Roberts went to Senator Clarence Nishihara's office, the public safety chair, and demanded answers from the committee clerk.

Nishihara had no comment, but the communications director for the senate acknowledged it was a mistake.

"When the clerk saw that, he thought they were all spam or orphan emails so he just ignored them. That was a mistake. He shouldn't have done that," said Richard Rapoza, State Senate Director of Communications ….

Background: Senate Committee Refuses to Recognize Hundreds of Emailed Testimonies

read … Hawaii rights group upset over hundreds of missing pieces of testimony

When it comes to measures that might affect their power, lawmakers won’t even hold public hearings.

CB: … There are some things we desperately need that our state legislators seemingly will never provide:

• The right to statewide initiative and referendum that citizens enjoy in almost every other Western state.

• Legislative term limits to encourage fresh leadership and a better chance to shake up the entrenched power structure that runs the islands.

Unfortunately, it looks like this session will bring more of the same inaction on frequently proposed reforms that are clearly supported by Hawaii voters — you know, the folks the politicians are supposed to be working for.

Even as they pay lip service to the obvious need to energize the electorate in a state that consistently serves up stale choices to voters, key legislators are again blocking initiative/referendum and term limits bills without even allowing committee hearings on them….

read … When it comes to measures that might affect their power, lawmakers won’t even hold public hearings.

SB931: Tourism Industry Prepares to Outlaw Aquarium Fishing

HTH: … A bill that would have abolished aquarium fishing in Hawaii cleared its first committee Wednesday, but not before its purpose was significantly amended.

Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-Hilo) introduced Senate Bill 931, passing it through the Senate Committee on Water and Land, which he chairs.

However, he altered the measure’s original language banning all methods of aquarium fishing in favor of placing a moratorium on the practice along with the use of fine mesh nets or traps. The moratorium would be repealed on June 30, 2021, and a decision on the fate of the industry would be made then.

In the interim, an environmental impact study (EIS) would be conducted by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, which was another of Kahele’s amendments….

read … Environmentalism is Tourism

Anti-Energy Bills Just Feel-Good Measures 

IM:: … House Bill 342 would require that the Hawaii strategic development corporation “divest all holdings in all publicly traded fossil fuel and firearm companies... within five years at a divestment rate of twenty percent each year.”

The bill was assigned to three committees in the House and has passed the first two, so it is still alive….

Senate Bill 259 “prohibits offshore drilling for oil or natural gas in state marine waters. Prohibits issuance of permits for or in connection with the development or operation of any facility or infrastructure associated with offshore drilling for oil or natural gas in state waters.” 

The bill is headed to its final committee in the Senate….

House Bill 563 “prohibits the issuance of covered source air permits for coal-burning electricity generation facilities after 2022. Prohibits the approval of a new, modified, or renewed power purchase agreement for electricity generated from coal.”

House Bill 563 would ban HECO from negotiating a continuation of its contract with the 180-megawatt AES coal facility in Campbell Industrial Park and would require the AES coal plant to cease operations in 2023….

HB 563 would have enabled groups to say that they stopped what was being stopped anyway.  The bill died.

HB: Poll Shows Hawaii Thinks it Believes Climate Change Is Real

read … Hawai`i Legislature Debating Feel Good Bills

Dopers Drag Bag of Money Thru Legislature

KITV:  … Hawaii's bill  would allow anyone 21 and older to buy up to a half an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and according to Goldstein, could generate millions in revenue; the bill proposes an additional 15% general ecxise tax on recreational marijuana.

"I think you could see upwards of half a billion dollars in economic benefit to the state with legalization," Noa Botanicals CEO Brian Goldstein theorizes.

(IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

Thirty percent of that tax revenue would be used for substance abuse prevention and education. Opponents argue, if parents use recreational marijuana it would still be a bad influence on children.

This bill has to be heard by the joint committees of Ways and Means and Consumer Protection and Health by March 1 or it will die.…

read … Medical cannabis dispensary speculates recreational marijuana could bring $500 million in state revenue

Effort to Include Trannies in Title IX will Have to Wait One More Year

CB: … Last year, many people cheered the Hawaii Legislature’s passage of a measure to create a state version of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in education programs that receive federal funding.

House Bill 1489, which was signed into law by Gov. David Ige as Act 110, established a framework to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation in any state-funded Hawaii education program.

It was a “huge step for Hawaii,” said then-state Sen. Jill Tokuda.

Now, however, implementation of the law will be delayed. The Legislative Reference Bureau, which conducts research and compiles reports for lawmakers on various issues, has missed a deadline to draft a report intended to serve as a jumping-off point for legislators to come up with the enabling language.

The report was due Dec. 27. The Legislature was supposed to hammer out the details of the enforcement mechanism this session, with the law to take effect Jan. 1, 2020….

read … Will the hysteria still be around next year?

IHS: 1 in 10 homeless people in Hawaii just got here from somewhere else

HNN: … The number of people traveling to Oahu and then ending up homeless is growing, according to a new report from the state’s largest homeless service provider.

The Institute for Human Services says 209 people from across the mainland showed up at one of its shelters last year looking for help. That’s up from 165 people in 2017.

The vast majority were single men, many of whom had been on the island less than three months….

Among the top reasons they come: They’re looking for a fresh start (meaningless words), to pursue a job (unemployment is 2%) or to take advantage of the state’s healthcare services (bingo!)….

The influx of new arrivals, many of whom were turning up on the streets of Waikiki, led to the creation of the IHS Airline Relocation Program.  (Its modelled on the programs which sent these bums here in the first place.  Obviously it is proven.)

“Our relocation program assists homeless individuals who are currently stuck here in Hawaii with relocating back to the mainland or where ever they are from,” Carvalho said.

Last year, a total of 128 people took advantage of the program….  (B-bye.)

The report shows that last year the majority of people used the program wound up returning to their home states on the West Coast. The next most popular destinations were the South and the Midwest….  (Further is better)

HNN: Chinatown residents desperate for cleaner, more sanitary sidewalks

read … IHS: 1 in 10 homeless people in Hawaii just got here from somewhere else

Queens Moves 1% of Expensive Homeless Patients into Housing

SA: … The Queen’s Medical Center, the largest hospital system in Hawaii, counted 6,958 homeless encounters in 2013; the number rose to 11,000 in 2016, according to a 2017 report, Touchpoints of Homelessness. The financial cost has risen as well: From 2013 to 2016, Queen’s estimated it has absorbed about $40 million in unreimbursed medical costs for high-needs homeless patients.  (Of 11,000 they got 108 bums to accept housing—see below)

Moreover, many of the homeless, regardless of their medical condition, obtain health care through one of the most expensive ways possible: via ambulance to the emergency room….

“There’s such a huge capture within the emergency room, bigger than sometimes even the shelters, bigger than some of the community outreach programs,” said Queen’s emergency room physician Daniel Cheng.

For Cheng, this presents both a problem and an opportunity to bend the curve. Cheng, 37, helped establish and is now medical director of the Queen’s Care Coalition, an intensive effort launched 18 months ago to provide homeless individuals arriving in its ER not only with medical care, but with help accessing housing and social services they need to keep them healthier — and out of the hospital.

In his State of the State address last month, Gov. David Ige praised the coalition, noting that Queen’s “became the first hospital in the nation to place its most medically fragile, homeless patients into housing as part of the recovery process.”…

Question: How many homeless people receive services from the Queen’s emergency room? How does that compare to other hospitals?

Answer: 2,850 unique individuals and roughly 8,200 emergency department visits, as conservative estimates for 2018. Queen’s shoulders 65 percent to 70 percent of the homeless care for Oahu.

Q: What kinds of ailments are most common among the homeless your department sees?

A: Psychiatric and substance abuse, skin infections, open wounds and pneumonia, and trauma….

Q: How much does it cost to operate the coalition, and how is it staffed?

A: $1.4 million to $1.5 million a year. The complete staff consists of a medical director, three full-time social workers and one advanced-practice nurse, and 10 community navigators….

Q: Can you describe the process by which a homeless person receives expanded help?

A: It actually begins from data. On a monthly basis, I generate a spreadsheet that tells me who is utilizing the emergency-room system, who is being hospitalized into the system, what’s the makeup of these patients. So to begin with, we already know who they are, what time they come in, what they come in for, and pretty much what their medical needs are. … So I have that information pretty much already pre-sifted out and based upon that, we actually pair that (patient) with a navigator.

The next step is a mixture of lie-and-wait, and a little bit of proactiveness. We know that based on the documentation, the patient stays at Fort Street Mall, or that patient stays at Aala Park. This is what they look like. We have their picture ID. Go find that patient…

The other approach is, we actually have real-time alerts when they come in. So that, as long as the navigator’s working, they’ll be alerted that this patient has now entered the system….

Q: How many homeless people have been helped through the coalition?

A: Through 13 months, 144 patients. Roughly 75 percent become sheltered (not permanent housing, but off the street), but all typically gain increases financially through new social welfare benefits they weren’t accessing — food stamps, disability income, etc. …  (144 x .75 = 108)

read … Name in the News: Dr. Daniel Cheng

Recidivist Criminals will not be Banished from Waikiki

CB: … The result was Senate Bill 637, which proposed banning people convicted of three misdemeanors committed in Waikiki from being in the popular resort district from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Violations could result in 30-day jail terms.

A companion bill, House Bill 1304, was sponsored by House Speaker Scott Saiki, who represents downtown Honolulu. Neither has received a committee hearing, and Friday is the deadline for that, which means the legislation is unlikely to proceed.

Moriwaki said her bill targeted people who go to Waikiki with criminal intent.

“They are nuisances, and they are coming back and coming back,” she said. Her goal, she said, was to instill “more discipline in the area so people here can have more peace.”…

Security cameras are being installed around Waikiki to aid in crimefighting….  (But if there isn’t enough crime, there aren’t enough excuses to spy on people.  So lets keep the criminals coming back for more.)

read … Banished

Hawaii Stops Buying Oil from Indonesia

HSN: …Indonesia’s Minas crude will no longer flow to Hawaii following Island Energy Services’ closure of its 54,000 b/d Kapolei refinery and sale of refining assets to US producer Par Pacific, in a loss of one of the grade’s few export outlets outside of Indonesia, according to sources with knowledge of the matter and S&P Global Platts data Thursday.

Trade sources said Par Pacific does not intend to continue supply of the medium, sweet crude to the former IES refinery after buying over the latter’s crude and vacuum distillation unit in the third quarter of 2018….

Platts vessel tracking software cFlow showed the last Minas crude cargo to Hawaii was shipped by vessel Mare Tirrenum from Dumai terminal on October 17 and arrived at Honolulu port on November 8….

The former IES refinery was one of the few regular export outlets for Minas crude before its closure. Around eight cargoes of Minas crude were shipped to Hawaii in 2018, cFlow showed.

The Minas crude cargoes were procured by IES through third-party suppliers who had term offtake agreements with Indonesia’s Pertamina or field operator Chevron….

Indonesian crude exports are becoming increasingly scarce, following a regulation last year under which Pertamina and other refineries with crude processing licenses, are obliged to prioritize buying domestic crudes before imports….

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s sole remaining refinery, Par Pacific’s 94,000 b/d refinery, also located at Kapolei, is able to run crudes with higher sulfur content.

Crude oil for Par Pacific’s refinery is mostly sourced from North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with Asia making up 23.1% and the Middle East 28.1% of the feedstock throughput in 2017, Par Pacific’s latest annual report showed….

read … Indonesia

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