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Monday, May 13, 2019
May 13, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:13 PM :: 986 Views

DHHL Planning Multi-Family Complexes and Rental Housing

Drug Use by State: Hawaii 2nd-Lowest

Kawailoa Windfarm Will Kill about 200 more bats than originally expected

CB: … Hawaii’s largest windfarm has submitted a supplemental environmental impact statement addressing its recognition that the project will kill more endangered species than originally anticipated. And the public has until June 24 to comment….

he 69-megawatt wind farm located near Haleiwa expects it may kill about 200 more bats than originally   expected, and also could accidently kill about two dozen endangered Hawaiian petrels….

Link: 2019-05-08-OA-DSEIS-Kawailoa-Wind-Farm.pdf

read … Kill about 200 more bats than originally expected

Lyon Bribery: Hawaii engineer to be sentenced

HNN: … A Hawaii engineer is expected to be sentenced in court on Monday for bribing public officials in Hawaii and the Federated States of Micronesia to secure contract work for his firm.

Frank James Lyon, of Lyon Associates Inc. in Honolulu, pleaded guilty to paying about $250,000 in order to land a $2.5 million state contract….

Lyon also admitted to bribes that led to nearly $8 million in contracts in Micronesia….

read … Hawaii engineer to be sentenced in bribery scheme

Just the Beginning: Rubbish Fee and Property tax Hike Secretly Designed to cover Honolulu rail costs

SA: … The three tax increases Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell proposed in his budget package earlier this year are designed in part to prepare the city to cover the cost of operations and maintenance of rail, a looming expense that rail critics have long warned would eventually force the city to raise taxes.

One of the mysteries surrounding the Honolulu rail project in recent years has been exactly where the city will get billions of dollars it will need in the decades ahead to operate and maintain rail. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation estimates those costs will amount to $127 million to $144 million per year once the entire 20-mile train line opens.

In an interview last week, Caldwell said the increases he proposed this year in property taxes on hotels and the most expensive Oahu homes as well as a new fee for rubbish pickup are part of the answer. If approved by the Honolulu City Council, those fees would take effect in the budget year that begins July 1….

Caldwell said rail costs are partly why he has proposed a hotel property tax rate increase that would raise nearly $18 million a year, along with a new tax rate for the most expensive non-owner-occupied residential properties that would raise $14 million a year, and a new refuse fee that would raise $6 million in its first year and $12 million per year after that, he said.

“We’re doing this to generate the revenue that we need to start covering the cost of operations and maintenance of rail integrated with bus,” Caldwell said in an interview last week. The city subsidy for rail will be “just like how we do for bus,” where the city pays more than two-thirds of the cost of operating the system, he said….

Tsuneyoshi said she has been asking for more information about exactly how much operations and maintenance will cost the city, and said the administration isn’t sharing that information with the Council. “We don’t get the actual figures, we don’t get the actual numbers, and then there’s just these random things,” she said.

Manahan said he was recently briefed by the administration on projected maintenance and operations costs for rail, but said the administration is keeping that information confidential.

The city is now soliciting proposals from companies who would maintain and operate the rail system for the next 30 years under a public-private partnership, and “I don’t think they want to show their hand, basically,” Manahan said.

When asked how much the rail operations and maintenance will cost in the first two years that rail is open to the public, a spokesman for the administration said that “work is ongoing to validate/update the O&M cost estimate. This work is being led by the Department of Transportation Services.”…

Randy Roth, a retired University of Hawaii law professor and a longtime critic of the rail project, said, “The question is whether the city is going to be honest about the inevitability of those costs and the need to come up with funding, and the city’s failure to be straight with the public about that is just part of a pattern of deception.”

Whatever the cost of rail maintenance and operations finally turns out to be “there isn’t that amount sitting there, and obviously it’s going to have to come out of the pockets of taxpayers, and their refusal to own up to that and have an honest discussion of what the possibilities are in terms of where the money will come from, unfortunately again is just part of this pattern,” Roth said. “One would hope it would change after a while, but it hasn’t at all.”…

read … Three tax increases proposed to cover Honolulu rail costs

Caldwell Should Cancel Blaisdell Project to Pay for Rail

SA Editorial: … Given HART’s record of tangled and sometimes outright wasteful spending on the project, it’s not surprising that Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s request for the FTA to release its final chunk of funding while the city puts off payments until later is falling on deaf federal ears.

Since 2016, when it became clear that construction of Honolulu’s 20-mile elevated rail system was vastly overbudget and delayed, the FTA has been rightly wary of HART-related projections. It has yet to sign off on a city plan for financial recovery. And until it does, a hefty financial commitment hangs in the balance.

In 2012, the partners signed a “Full Funding Grant Agreement” committing the federal government to contributing $1.55 billion for Honolulu to build a 20-mile elevated rail system with 21 stations. So far, the city has received about half of the funds. But if the FTA loses faith in the partnership, it can deny the release of the remaining $744 million and require partial or even full return of the grant money….

Caldwell and the Council should scale back or shelve grand plans for a Neal Blaisdell Center makeover. A draft environmental assessment for the proposal, released in November, pegged the cost at $772.9 million — already an increase of $56 million over a price tag released earlier in 2018 in the city’s Blaisdell Center Master Plan.

While the mayor’s cosmopolitan vision for Blaisdell as a lively civic center is inviting, it would be irresponsible to take on such a financial burden — even if lightened with a public-private partnership — while rail-related uncertainty lingers on….

read … FTA requires city to tighten its belt

Potential jurors in Kealoha case line up at Blaisdell

SA: … Some 413 potential jurors filled the Neal S. Blaisdell Center’s Pikake Room today in an extraordinary federal court proceeding to select jurors in the trial of former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine, the city’s former deputy prosecutor, and three current and former HPD officers.

J. Michael Seabright, the Chief United States District Judge for Hawaii, is presiding over the case and told those gathered in the Pikake Room that he plans to impanel 12 jurors and four alternates.

Opening statements could then begin on May 22 or May 23 in U.S. District Court on Ala Moana Boulevard, Seabright said….

HNN: Here’s a look at the questionnaire potential jurors in the Kealoha case filled out

CB: THE KEALOHA TRIAL BEGINS

read … Potential jurors in Kealoha case line up at Blaisdell

ACLU Hawaii expands Title IX lawsuit against DOE to a class action lawsuit

KITV: … ACLU attorney Wookie Kim is a member of the legal team that filed the lawsuit. He explains the case: "This lawsuit is filed on behalf of two female athletes at Campbell High School."

The lawsuit is filed as a class action, "which means those two girls are trying to represent all present and future female athletes or female students at Campbell High School," he continues.

Just over two weeks ago, the ACLU of Hawaii filed its latest motion for Class Certification. Kim explains that's "basically the formal request with the court to approve the lawsuit as a formal class action." …

KT's daughter is a water polo player and swimmer. KT says she met with Campbell administrators to address this issue, but found them "hostile." She and her daughter left the meeting in tears, according to the declaration. She says she's "disgusted" with the situation and accuses the school of "discrimination." All five declarations carry a similar tone….

The hearing is scheduled for July 5. …

Flashback: Rep. Cabanilla Praises Decision to NOT fund Girls Locker Room for Campbell HS

read … ACLU Hawaii expands Title IX lawsuit against DOE to a class action lawsuit

Democrats Move to Eliminate Positions reserved for Independents, Republicans on Hawaii County Boards and Commissions

HTH: … A ballot initiative making county boards nonpartisan (more Democrat-controlled) was advanced Friday by the Charter Commission.

The amendment, which passed first reading on a unanimous vote, would remove the current requirement that no more than a bare majority of members on the county’s various boards and commissions shall belong to the same political party….

Margaret Wille, a former County Council member from Waimea (and current Democratic Party County Chair), agreed with the measure. Wille said she’s heard people who want to be on a board told by others, “Don’t tell them you’re a Democrat. You’ll never get on.”…

(Translation: We Democrats already lie to get on these Boards.)

“It’s very difficult to get a diverse board … male and female,” Wille said in testimony to the commission….

(Translation: “Diverse’ means ‘Democrat’)

read … Commissions and boards could go 'nonpartisan'

Website Photos of Homeless Drug Mayhem in Chinatown

SA: …Schlieman, the president and creative director of Info Grafik on Maunakea Street, out of frustration also created a website seven months ago — chinatownwatch.com.

The website offers pictures of people whom Schlieman says are urinating in public, splayed out on city sidewalks, having sex in open spaces, masturbating, vomiting, brawling and drinking in front of the Honolulu Police Department’s Chinatown substation. There are also several photos of what Schlieman believes is human feces.

His goal: “To publish what’s going on and get the attention of the people who can control it,” Schlieman said….

read … Chinatown business owners frustrated with homeless

Condo Associations May Be On Verge Of Gaining More Foreclosure Power

CB: … Condominium associations sued by disgruntled tenants may slip away unscathed after the Legislature passed a bill this session that clarifies the powers the associations have to foreclose on properties.

Senate Bill 551 would clear up the legislative intent behind statutes enacted since the 1990s regarding condo associations’ right to foreclose on owners who failed to pay their fees without going through the courts. Tenants  — supported by a recent ruling of  the Intermediate Court of Appeals — argued the associations need to spell out in their bylaws that they can foreclose on noncompliant owners.

By passing SB 551, the Legislature is saying that is not the case, and is also retroactively applying that standard to cases still pending in the courts.

The bill’s fate is now in the hands of Gov. David Ige.….

read … Condo Associations May Be On Verge Of Gaining More Foreclosure Power

Maybe Hirono Should Be A ‘Badass’ On Local Issues Too

CB: … while Hirono has been outspoken against Trump’s broad policies, Kulbis says that Hirono has not shown zeal toward issues that directly affect Hawaii, especially poor economic conditions.

“The things that matter most to Hawaii, they will not touch, like the Jones Act,” Kulbis said. “They are not hearing the voices of the people here, and it’s unfortunate.”

While Hirono has developed in the Trump era a reputation among liberals as a “badass” for her confrontational style in holding Republicans accountable, her use of polemic has been combined with strategic fundraising, which makes her message seem less about speaking bluntly and more about partisanship.

Last September, Hirono was criticized in tweets over fundraising off the Kavanaugh hearing….

read … Maybe Hirono Should Be A ‘Badass’ On Local Issues Too

American Shipping Is Dying. But We Can Bring It Back

Fortune: … While debates rage about how to restore America’s manufacturing, military, and even moral foundations to periods of perceived glory, little attention is being given to the crisis in shipping.

This aspect of national decline is a grave issue for more than the pinch to patriotic pride that comes from the loss of the stars and stripes on the world’s oceans, but also for crucial geostrategic reasons. When 90% of international trade measured by volume is transported on ships, a healthy merchant marine is in the country’s vital economic interests and, as has always been the case, it is the foundation for a strong coast guard and navy.

Just 75 years ago, at the end of World War II, the U.S. boasted the world’s largest commercial fleet, owning 60% of total tonnage. Today, the top three fleets in the world are Greek, Chinese, and Japanese, each of which are three times larger than the shrinking American fleet….

The nation that invented the clipper ship, the application of the steam engine at sea, and the venerable shipping container has become a laggard in virtually every aspect of marine innovation, still using outmoded technologies, for example, on coastwise and ferry trades with what decrepit vessels are left. One of the ships that transports goods from the West Coast to Hawaii for example, the 46-year-old Matsonia, is older than the median age of residents of Hawaii.

One need look no further than the constant need for waivers to the Jones Act—the law requiring domestic goods to be transported on ships owned, flagged, crewed, and built in the U.S.—on the heels of hurricanes to appreciate the dire condition of the American fleet.

Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii have become Jones Act hostages. Countless other examples of the rot abound, such as the fact that there are no American-flagged liquefied natural gas carriers, leaving American shale gas stranded on the Gulf Coast and unable to get to American consumers on the Atlantic seaboard. Hawaiian ranchers are flying cattle to the mainland because of the expense and substandard quality of Jones Act ships.

Because of the sharp lobby of entrenched interests quietly enriching themselves from this economic rent, the topic of the Jones Act has become a third rail in Washington, D.C. Along the way, the U.S. has slipped from the world’s greatest seafaring nation to a second-rate shipping power….

The law has made the cost to produce an American merchant vessel three to five times more expensive than what it takes to build a comparable hull in any other country….

read … American Shipping Is Dying. But We Can Bring It Back

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