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Wednesday, September 04, 2019
September 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:36 AM :: 1570 Views

Good Stewards? Protesters Build 3rd Illegal Structure on 'Sacred' Mauna Kea

DoTax Deploys Final Phase of Tech Upgrade

Prosecutor’s Race: Megan Kau vs Steven Alm vs RJ Brown?

SA: … Kau laid out three reasons why she wants to become Honolulu Prosecutor. “The first reason why I’m running for Prosecuting Attorney is loyalty. I’ve been put in a very unique position where I have been asked for help by the current employees, staff members, deputies and investigators. The current administration has discriminated against them, retaliated against them, and asked them to do unethical things. I am here to put a stop to all of that,” Kau said.

“The second reason why I’m running for Prosecuting Attorney is love for the law. I love the law and I want to lead this office into the future and grow the law with it. The third reason why I’m running for Prosecuting Attorney is leadership. The deputies in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office are our future litigators and trial attorneys. They need the correct leadership, they need the correct mentorship, and they need the correct skills. I’m the one to give them that.”

When asked why she used the word “ethical” so often in her announcement, Kau replied: “This current administration has had many ethical issues. I could stand here for days and talk about them. I’m intimately familiar with all of them, and all of that needs to stop…There will be no secrets [if I’m elected]. I’m getting rid of all the corruption.”

Asked about the potential running of former judge Steven Alm, Kau said: “He’s very objective, he’s very competent. He’s got a great reputation. But that office needs energy. It needs a new face, it needs new attitudes, new thinking, and I’m the one to do that…Judge Alm has been away from Hawaii for a very long time. I’ve been intimately involved in calling out this administration in its wrongdoings.”…

July 19, 2019:  RJ Brown, a former deputy prosecuting attorney who once worked for Civil Beat

Jan 17, 2019: RJ Brown Moderates Hawaii Federalist Society Panel

CB: ...Earlier this year, the council OK’d spending $40,000 to hire Megan Kau, who is now running for prosecuting attorney, to defend Honolulu police officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen in a civil lawsuit filed by Puana. Nguyen was found guilty in June of federal crimes alongside the Kealohas and another officer.... 

HNN: Keith Kaneshiro not running for re-election amid federal probe, his attorney says 

SA Editorial: Seeking a new prosecutor

ILind: Honolulu prosecutor race could get interesting

HNN: Keith Kaneshiro not running for re-election amid federal probe, his attorney says

read … Prominent island attorney announces run for Honolulu City & County Prosecutor

HART Spokesperson and Former TV sports anchor Russell Yamanoha pleads guilty to conspiracy—Keeps Rail PR Gig

SA: … Former television sports anchor and current HART employee Russell Yamanoha pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to conspiring to rig a union election when he was an IBEW Local 1260 official.

Yamanoha faces a maximum one-year prison term at sentencing.

He became an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers member when he started working at KHNL as a photographer. He later became a sports reporter and sports anchor. After KHNL ended its news operation, Yamanoha joined IBEW as business representative. He later became the union’s assistant business manager and director of media.

Yamanoha has been working as an information specialist for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation for the past two years.….

read … Former TV sports anchor Russell Yamanoha pleads guilty to conspiracy

Because Police Were not Allowed to Act, Hawaii County has now spent more than $3.6 million on TMT-related expenses

HTH: … The majority of that figure — $3.4 million — are labor costs incurred by law enforcement personnel stationed on Maunakea.

Puna council member Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, who requested the report, noted that the total costs had only increased by about $380,000 since the previous report on Aug. 20. Police Chief Paul Ferreira confirmed that law enforcement is now incurring significantly less overtime than at the height of the protests in July, when officers islandwide transitioned to 12-hour shifts. The department is now working standard eight-hour shifts again.

However, Ferreira noted the county can expect a $350,000 to $400,000 increase to the total price tag every two weeks, unless the number of officers on the mountain is reduced.

“We’re at the bare minimum right now,” Ferreira said, explaining that there are about 20 officers on the mountain at any given time.

Although the county has a verbal agreement with the state that all TMT-related expenses will be reimbursed by the state, Sako said the county has yet to receive such repayments….

read … County has now spent more than $3.6 million on TMT-related expenses

Looming Recession Expected To Take A Bite Out Of State Revenues

CB: The Council on Revenues, a group of tax professionals, business leaders and economists, lowered expected tax revenue growth for the state in 2021 and 2022 to 3%, according to council members. While the projection is just one percentage point down from previous projections and would still generate more than $7 billion a year, it could make a difference for state lawmakers who write the budget….

read … Looming Recession Expected To Take A Bite Out Of State Revenues

Homeless Advocates Test Hawaii’s New Forced-Treatment Law

CB: … Now the nonprofit Institute For Human Services, which runs Hawaii’s largest homeless shelter, is preparing to submit its first four petitions under the newly strengthened law, asking a judge to order a woman and three men to undergo intensive psychiatric treatment while remaining in the community.

The four people have been homeless in Hawaii for more than 10 years. They are diagnosed with schizophrenia and have a history of incarceration, according to IHS spokesman Kimo Cravalho. They range in age from late 40s to early 60s.

“These are classic cases of chronic mentally ill, homeless people who have been on the streets for a long time but who have refused treatment over and over for as long as we’ve known them,” Cravalho said.

IHS plans to submit the petitions this month….

read … Homeless Advocates Test Hawaii’s New Forced-Treatment Law

Firefighter Injured Fighting Multi-Alarm Blaze at Homeless Squat

SA: … Honolulu firefighters battled a house fire at 1051 Kinau Street, shortly after 4 p.m. today.

A nearby condominium resident said the two-story house is abandoned and frequented by homeless people. Flames were clearly visible in the area.

Twelve Honolulu Fire Department units with 44 personnel responded to the scene. The first unit arrived at 4:16 p.m….

HFD did receive reports of vagrants going in and out of the house….

read … Firefighter injured after responding to house fire on Kinau Street

Bill 40 Plastic Ban on Honolulu Council Agenda

SA: … Honolulu City Council to take up Bill 40, which seeks to ban single- use plastic bags and plastic goods in the sale of foods prepared for immediate consumption….

As currently written, the bill would sweep plastic bags, straws, foam containers and plastic utensils into the prohibition.

Exactly what will end up in the final measure — which should be moved along to a second-reading approval today — is unclear. There is enormous pressure on the Council from groups representing many food merchants to back off such restrictions as posing a financial burden on vendors, who often operate with a thin profit margin.

They also could make a persuasive argument that Hawaii’s plastics problem is far larger than just what the prepared-food industry contributes. Even so, these vendors can choose their service supplies, whereas retailers selling heavily packaged manufactured items have less control.

The fact is, when so little (100% of) plastic can be recycled (into electricity at H-Power), the rational response is to curtail what customers buy and use (defeat Bill 40)….

read … Plastic Ban

TVR Ban: 18 Notices Issued, no Fines Yet

SA: … After receiving notices of violation of Honolulu’s tougher vacation-rentals law, at least one property owner pulled advertising while another changed it to offer stays of 30 days or more, which complies with Ordinance 19-89. Quick action is required to avoid an initial fine of $1,000 followed by subsequent daily fines of up to $10,000.

So far, Honolulu Hale has issued at least 18 notices, and no fine. That’s drop-in-the-bucket progress, considering the illegal-rentals estimate is at least 8,000 units ….

SA Column: Vacation rental law will cause damage

read … Destroying Small Businesses

Oahu, Big Island: New Building Code Drives up Housing Costs

WHT:  … Concerns about the impact of a strict new energy code on the cost of housing had the County Council on Tuesday vowing to look at ways to minimize costs on the Big Island.

Hawaii County missed the deadline to make its own modifications to the International Energy Conservation Code, which went into effect last month. Counties had two years before that to implement their own changes to the code. Maui had modified its code in March, and Kauai modified its in November, leaving Hawaii County and Oahu using the state code….

“It really seems impossible to me when we have overly burdensome regulations that may apply to other islands but not here,” said Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz. “The dream of owning your own home is impossible with this type of regulation.”

The council plans to bring forth not just amendments, but also exemptions. Members tasked their attorney with researching how far the county can go in amending the code while staying within state laws.

County planners estimate 20,000 new houses need to be built by 2025 to accommodate the growing population. Most council members agreed that climate change is making the island hotter, and some homes might need to add air conditioning units, which Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder said accounts for roughly 20% of the world’s energy use.

“I can see the negatives of this; I can also see the positives,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “We need to start taking this into account. … We’re all putting ACs in our houses.”

Not so, said Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter. She said most of the people in her community, including herself, don’t have air conditioning, so they don’t need their homes tightly sealed as required by the new code.

“It’s like a state unfunded mandate,” Poindexter said. “They need to give us options.”…

Building costs continue to climb and most council members point to government regulations as a prime reason.

“I’m bothered by the fact that we’re going to increase the cost of our affordable housing,” said Kohala Councilman Tom Richards. “Our infrastructure costs are so high and now we’re going to increase our structure costs.”

Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, chairwoman of the Public Works Committee that discussed the energy code, outlined several avenues the county can take in addition to writing amendments to the code. Members can also lobby the state Building Code Council and state legislators to make the code more realistic for the island, she said.

“In my humble opinion, Maui and Kauai don’t go far enough,” Lee Loy said. “This is us fighting for our constituency.”

Lee Loy pressed Public Works Director David Yamamoto to explain how the county missed the March 31 deadline to enact its own regulations.

Yamamoto said his department was “semi-distracted” by its work implementing a new EnerGov building permit computer system and then decided to simply use its variance process on a case-by-case basis to deal with the energy code. He said he still has questions about how many amendments the county would legally be allowed to make to the state code….

Blake Reid, owner of Waimea building contractor and energy consultant Terrawatt, is a strong supporter of the new energy code.

“I don’t think it’s perfect. I think it’s a really good step in the right direction,”” Reid said. “It doesn’t increase the total cost of construction because of the trade offs. … The climate is getting warmer and people want air conditioning.”…  (Wow.  Just wow.) 

PBN: How Honolulu compares on cost of living with biggest US cities: Slideshow

read … Council seeks amendments to energy code

Jones Act: Pro and Con

HB: … Michael N. Hansen is president of the Hawaii Shippers’ Council, which has two dozen members. He re-released a 1997 report from the council partly because, he said, no similar credible studies had been done since then on the Jones Act’s impact on the local economy. The report said the Jones Act depressed Hawai‘i’s gross domestic product by 3.1% a year – which works out to $1,014 per person. ….

read … Jones Act: Pro and Con

Hawaii Contractors Face New Costs and Restrictions on State and City Bid Protests

HB: … For the second time in less than a decade, new legislation is discouraging contractors from asking for hearings to decide government bid protests.

In its 2019 regular session, the Legislature voted to require bid protesters to pay a fee of $1,000 to ask for hearings on contracts of $1 million or more, and a $200 fee for hearings involving many smaller contracts.

A contractor that wishes to appeal a protest decision by a City or State agency must promptly request a hearing from the State.  Otherwise, the agency decision is final.  The new fee imposes a new condition on that right of appeal, and is nonrefundable even if the protester wins the hearing.

Legislators defended the new law by noting that bid protests can delay projects and increase costs.  Legislators also reported that hearings officers can spend more than 100 hours to hear and decide a case, and that those costs have been indirectly paid for by contractor license registration fees….

read … Hawaii Contractors Face New Costs and Restrictions on State and City Bid Protests

New White House rules would drop Families Making $59,000/yr from food stamp program

SA: …  More than 3,000 Hawaii households would likely lose their food stamps under new restrictions proposed by the Trump administration, according to an analysis by the state Department of Human Services.

Administration officials say the proposed rule change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, would save the government money and close what they’ve described as a loophole that allows states to increase income and asset limits to help residents qualify….

The federal government is accepting public comments on the proposal through Sept. 23….

Specifically, the proposed rule would restrict what is called “broad-based categorical eligibility,” which allows states to adjust income limits for residents seeking to obtain food assistance. The standard federal eligibility cutoff is 130% of the federal poverty level, or about $38,000 annually for a family of four in Hawaii. But the exemption allows Hawaii to adjust this cutoff for applying for the program to 200% of the federal poverty level, or $59,240 annually….

local advocacy organizations say the proposed rule change would take away food assistance from Hawaii’s neediest…

SA Editorial: SNAP benefit cut threatens needy

read … New White House rules would drop more than 3,000 in isles from food stamp program

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