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September 20, 2019 News Read
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Mauna Kea: Theft Suspect Arrested at Protesters Camp

Hawaii unable to make progress in improving grade for shared parenting efforts

Hawaii retiree health care severely underfunded

Drivers of well-being in Hawaii: Quantifying individual and community impacts

Trump 'One National Program Rule' Could Wipe out Electric Car Subsidies: Hawaii AG Joins Suit to Save Elon Musk

AG Subpoenas OHA over ‘Support’ for Mauna Kea Protesters

SA: The state Attorney General’s Office has slapped a subpoena on the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs demanding detailed information about support that OHA has provided to the Thirty Meter Telescope opponents who are blocking Maunakea Access Road, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported….

OHA Board of Trustees Chairwoman Colette Y. Machado on Thursday refused to say what sort of assistance OHA provided or how much that support cost, but a source said OHA has supported the work of lawyers who are representing protesters who were arrested during the Maunakea demonstrations.

The activists have so far declined to identify the source of funding for amenities including dozens of portable toilets at the Puu Huluhulu protest camp at the base of the access road, but during testimony in Hilo on Thursday, the TMT opponents publicly thanked the trustees for their help.

“We really do appreciate what we have received, and hope that you will continue to do that into the next fiscal year, assuming we’re still going to be there standing on that mauna, ” said protest leader and Hawaiian elder Noe Noe Wong-Wilson.

The TMT opponents have now been blocking the access road for more than two months….

…According to a statement issued Thursday by an OHA spokesman, “OHA has been subpoenaed by the state Attorney General’s office to provide documents related to OHA’s efforts to ensure the safety and welfare of its beneficiaries on Maunakea.”

“OHA is inclined to cooperate if it determines that the scope and purpose of the requests as well as the process to be followed are legitimate, ” the statement said. The trustees are scheduled to receive a report Thursday on the expenditures made in connection with the Mauna Kea protests.

Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to Attorney General Clare Connors, declined Wednesday to release a copy of the demand for information from OHA, saying in a written statement that “to the extent this relates to an inquiry from our office, we wouldn’t be able to share the (documents ) as it would impact the effectiveness of the inquiry.”

Kamehameha Schools has acknowledged it is also providing help to the demonstrators camped at the bottom of the access road, including providing a large tent and support for documentation of the protests through livestreams, photos and videos….

UPDATE: Akina: OHA Should not Fight Subpoena

UPDATE: OHA BoT Agenda Sept 26, 2019 (Includes report on financial support for protesters.)

CB: AG Probes Office of Hawaiian Affairs Support of Mauna Kea Protest

read … Inside the subpoena issued to learn how OHA is helping protesters

Only Three OHA trustees meet with protesters, offer support

HTH: … Three trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs met with protesters at Maunakea Access Road Thursday in support of their opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Colette Machado, Dan Ahuna and Carmen Lindsey — trustees respectively representing Molokai and Lanai, Kauai and Niihau, and Maui — visited the kupuna, or elders, camped at the base of Maunakea Access Road for nearly two hours.

After an emotional welcome by the kupuna, Machado addressed the protesters, saying that OHA is seeking to support the Hawaiian community in ways the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has not been able to, such as restoring access to Maunakea summit for all cultural practitioners, instead of the single vehicle currently permitted by law enforcement.

“Don’t give up on OHA,” Machado said. “Allow us to do what we can. We have some limitations, we have no powers…except our commitment which is to serve our people. Outside of that we have no authority to govern anything else, but your voices are being heard.”

Machado later explained that OHA is inherently limited in the degree of support it can provide, as it is a state agency that only receives about $3.5 million a year.

Ahuna urged the protesters — who call themselves kia‘i, or protectors, of Maunakea, which they consider sacred — to remain strong.

“Aloha will always win!” Ahuna said. “Aloha is exposing the truth!”

Machado and Ahuna were two trustees who, along with Chief Operating Officer Sylvia Hussey, denounced the state’s handling of the destruction of an unpermitted structure at the protest site two weeks before.

The three had also visited the site back in July.

Machado did not comment on the six other trustees’ absence Thursday, but said she is “hopeful that the next time we’ll be more unified.”

OHA Public Relations Officer Sterling Wong also addressed the kupuna, saying that the agency’s lawsuit against the state for mismanagement on Maunakea, which was filed in 2017, is still pending.

Wong also delivered an official OHA statement announcing that the agency has been subpoenaed by the State Attorney General’s office to provide documents related to OHA’s efforts to insure the safety and welfare of its beneficiaries on Maunakea….

read … OHA trustees meet with protesters, offer support

Hawaii Mayor Kim Tells OHA Trustees his plan includes building TMT, but that is a nonstarter for protesters

WHT: … Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim confirmed Thursday that his long-awaited blueprint for the future of Maunakea will include a plan to build the Thirty Meter Telescope near the summit, but the TMT opponents said that is still unacceptable to them.

During testimony in Hilo before the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees, Kim said his concept is for “Maunakea to be a symbol of nations working together for the pursuit of peace and harmony, a beacon of hope and discovery for this world. This is not just about science. It is about combining culture and science.”…

Kim told the trustees that he hopes to complete his proposal this week, and said the draft he held in his hand as he addressed the trustees was version 109, “and it’s not the last.”

The document calls for a cultural center, educational programs “that connect the wonders of science to the minds of children and adults of the world, ” and a new management authority that gives “strong deference to the voices of the host island and the Hawaiian community.”

Kim did not specifically mention TMT during his presentation to the trustees, but said in an interview after his presentation that the telescope will be part of the package.

When asked how he will get that past the objections by the TMT opponents, Kim replied, “If I knew the answer, I’d tell you. I’m trying to get past it, I’ve been talking to them throughout.”

Quoting from his draft plan, Kim told the trustees, “This presentation is beyond a yes or no of the TMT project. This is about asking Hawaii’s people to come together and find a path to go forward in a good way.”…

Kaho’okahi Kanuha, a leader of the protests on Maunakea, said Thursday that if Kim’s plan includes TMT, “I’m not sure how he believes that to be representative of the people, and how that would in any way work towards finding a solution to the current issue, which is the building of TMT.”

Kanuha said the protesters, who call themselves “protectors” of the mountain, will consider Kim’s plan, “but if it has to include TMT, there’s no way that works.” Kanuha and others have said they will not compromise, and say the TMT will not be built.

Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, another protest leader and Hawaiian elder (an old person) said that any plan that includes TMT “is not my idea of a solution.”

She said she expects to meet with Kim soon to learn more, but said Kim told her early on that TMT is “on the table. So, it’s been our position from the beginning that as long as they’re on the table, we’re not willing to engage in this plan.”…

read … Hawaii Mayor Kim says his plan includes building TMT, but that is a nonstarter for protesters

King Kamehameha Opened Hawaii to astronomy

SA: … My realization that astronomy needs to be an integral part of Hawai‘i’s community is steeped in the tradition of the oceanic explorers who discovered these islands. By sailing away from the safety of distant shores they discovered the stars.

The first example we have of observational astronomy conducted on Hawaiian shores, comes with the arrival of Captain James Cook. On Jan. 19, 1779, in Kealakekua Bay, after receiving permission from the local chief, Cook established Hawai‘i’s first observatory in a sweet potato field adjacent to Hikiau Heiau.

The field was used another two times for observatories between 1779 and 1793. Within this period, Kamehameha, ascended to power.

Captain George Vancouver, returning to Hawai‘i in 1794, requested to use the same field but was denied access by the wife of the former kahuna of Hikiau Heiau.

Kamehameha asked Vancouver to consider using another part of the bay for his observatory but the sweet potato field was the best location. Kamehameha assembled his priests and after serious discussion. Vancouver was granted permission to again use the field to locate his observatory.

Here is Hawai‘i’s first example of a contested case hearing, the ranking ali‘i, Kamehameha, vested deeply in his religion and traditions, ruling that science and Hawaiian culture are compatible….

read … Kamehameha bridged modern astronomy, cultural beliefs

Mayor: Injection well settlement could cost county $800 million

MN: … Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Thursday afternoon that if the county settles a lawsuit over wastewater injection wells before the U.S. Supreme Court — as a majority in the County Council appears poised to authorize — it could cost the county more than $800 million in fines, required improvements and legal fees.

The council will be hearing the settlement resolution at its meeting beginning at 9 a.m. today in Council Chambers.

A plaintiffs’ attorney said late Thursday afternoon that the mayor’s statement was an act of “last-minute desperation‚” and that he has “stooped down to all-out Trumpian fearmongering.” (A very substantive answer, LOL!)….

The council Government, Ethics and Transparency Committee voted 5 to 3 on Sept. 6 in favor of a resolution urging the mayor to settle the lawsuit. That measure, which requires only one vote in the full council, is up for final action in the council today.

On the eve of the meeting, Victorino issued a statement, saying that “it’s important for everyone, council members and our residents, to fully understand the impacts of withdrawing this case from consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

He said a settlement could lead to “a projected doubling and nearly tripling of sewer rate fees in the next five to 10 years; fines of nearly $1 million per day for Maui County’s 18 injection wells; a projected cost of $150 million to $200 million per treatment plant for conversion to ocean sewage outfalls; and payment of more than $1.1 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs.

“All this for an uncertain impact on the nearshore environment, which receives other sources of pollution, such as fertilizer residue, land-based sediment and cesspools,” he continued.

The mayor said that if the county settles and the 9th Circuit ruling stands:

– Injection wells will need to be converted to direct dumping into the ocean, which provide more regulatory certainty under the Clean Water Act. The cost would range from $150 million to $200 million per wastewater facility. Taken together for the four wastewater treatment plants, the cost could reach $800 million.

– The county would face Clean Water Act maximum fines of $53,000 per day for each injection well at the four wastewater reclamation facilities — four wells in Lahaina, eight in Kahului, three in Kihei and three on Molokai. This would expose the county to potential fines of almost $1 million per day for those 18 injection wells.

– With sewage ratepayers funding wastewater facilities, the Department of Environmental Management estimates that sewer rates would double in five years to pay for financial impacts and almost triple in 10 years. This means residents who currently pay $73 per month would pay $150 in five years and $209 a month in 10 years. There would be similar increases for commercial customers. Those who currently pay $8 per 1,000 gallons and would pay $16 in five years and $25 in 10 years.

The county also would be on the hook for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs in excess of $1.1 million, $100,000 to the federal government and $2.5 million in water reuse projects in West Maui, the mayor said.

The county’s bond rating also could be negatively impacted. There could be delays in getting permits for affordable housing projects if projects have pollutant discharges that are “fairly traceable” to a body of water, which would require a Clean Water Act permit, Victorino said.

“My administration is fully committed to eliminating injection wells, except for emergency backup uses,” Victorino said. “We are not there yet. It will take time and money, and the cooperation of our recycled water customers.

“I ask for our day in court to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the regulatory reach of the Clean Water Act and whether a permit under that act is required for Maui County’s injection wells.”…

read … Mayor: Injection well settlement could cost county $800 million

HART Gets Its First New Board Chair In About Three Years

CB: … Tobias “Toby” Martyn will chair the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board, replacing Damien Kim.

Martyn is a career financial services industry professional, according to his biography on the HART website. He manages Stifel’s Honolulu branch office, and he previously served on the State of Hawaii Employee Retirement Services board.

He originally joined the rail board as one of the state’s four nonvoting appointees in 2017. He then filled the vacancy of a voting member’s seat in 2018.

Kim, meanwhile, has had trouble leaving the HART board as planned. He announced in June that we would exit as his term expired that month, marking the departure of the rail agency’s last original board member.

Kim also noted at the time that he would stay on until the City Council could find his replacement.

Three months later, he’s still attending meetings….

read … HART Gets Its First New Board Chair In About Three Years

Rail construction along Dillingham will snarl traffic, but the plan, and how long it will take, is still up-in-the-air

KHON: … It’s one of the most complicated areas along the rail route — the stretch down Dillingham Boulevard. HART is considering an “accelerated” schedule for the work, but it would be put a huge strain on the community.

Glenn Nohara, HART Project Oversight Committee chair Glenn Nohara said they haven’t decided exactly how they will move forward with rail construction along Dillingham.

“It’s tough even as a construction person myself, its like the worst project I’ve ever been associated with,” said Nohara.

“There’s a lot of utilities in the existing traffic lanes. We have a series of drain pipes. We have a box culvert. We have sewer lines. We have gas lines. We have two to three waterlines, one is a point transmission main, that’s all under Dillingham. The issue is if we have to relocate the electrical lines on Dillingham-the Hawaiian Electric lines… that’s what we’re going through right now.”…

At this point, there is no talk about completely shutting Dillingham down. But Nohara said it would be a very big impact….

read … Rail construction along Dillingham will snarl traffic, but the plan, and how long it will take, is still up-in-the-air

P3 Trouble? Honolulu extends deadline for Blaisdell Center redevelopment P3 RFQ

PBN: … The city had issued the RFQ in late July that gave potential private partners until Oct. 31 to submit their qualifications to design, build, finance and operate a redeveloped civic center on the 22-acre campus. The city held a public hearing on the process two weeks ago.

However, on Thursday the city posted an addendum to the original RFQ extending the deadline to Nov. 29 at 3 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time. The addendum did not specify if the request for proposals, which was projected to be issued to the list of potential development entities by Dec. 31, would be delayed.

Under a public-private partnership, a private development partner will share in the cost of redeveloping the center, which opened in 1964 and includes a concert hall, exhibition hall and arena. The city has said the RFQ will help determine the portion that the city will pay.

The state of Hawaii is also looking use a public-private partnership to redevelop the 98-acre Aloha Stadium campus….

read … Honolulu extends deadline for Blaisdell Center redevelopment P3 RFQ

Pay Increase Approved For Hawaii School Officials

CB: … The full board voted Thursday to increase the pay range for complex area superintendents, as part of a compensation adjustment for two dozen superintendent positions. The pay raises received some pushback in the human resources committee, though DOE leaders said the pay raises will attract a more competitive pool of candidates.

Even with the raises, the upper end of pay will still be higher for some principals than even the deputy superintendent.

“Leadership — good leadership — is critical to anything happening,” BOE chairwoman Catherine Payne, a former high school principal and complex area superintendent, said at the meeting. “It’s hard enough to get people to move out of a school and into a CAS position which is a wholly different experience.”

The changes impact the three leadership tiers below the superintendent, who makes $240,000 a year per her contract and whose pay is not impacted by Thursday’s vote: the deputy superintendent; seven assistant superintendents who each oversee a specific area of education policy; and 15 complex area superintendents who are in charge of an entire geographic area that consists of a high school and the elementary and middle/intermediate schools feeding into it.

The board has signed off on subordinate superintendent pay raises every year since at least 2015.

Prior pay increases have ranged from 2% to 4.5% based on performance evaluations and the Hawaii consumer price index for that fiscal year….

read … Pay Increase Approved For Hawaii School Officials

Manahan’s Chief Of Staff Running For City Council Seat

CB: … Joey Manahan is term-limited on the Honolulu City Council, and so his seat is one of five open races in 2020.

Manahan’s own chief of staff, Radiant Cordero, would like to represent District 7, which represents Kalihi, lwilei, Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Ford Island and Sand Island.….

read … Manahan’s Chief Of Staff Running For City Council Seat

Sentencing for Kealohas delayed until Halloween

SA: … A federal judge today agreed to delay the sentencing of Katherine and Louis Kealoha for their conspiracy and obstruction of justice convictions until Halloween because of ongoing settlement talks related to the couple’s upcoming trial on charges of bank fraud and a later drug-related trial involving Katherine and her brother.

The sentencing of two police officers, Derek Wayne Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, who also were convicted with the Kealohas, will be postponed until Nov. 4, according to U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright….

read … Sentencing for Kealohas delayed until Halloween

Soft on Crime: Thugs ‘evict’ family from house, get probation—5 Years Later Family still can’t get back into house

MN: … Levi “Pio” Aki Jr., 30, of Wailuku was given credit for more than six months he previously spent in jail, as part of his sentence.

“Every night I relive the attack in my nightmare,” Christopher Kunzelman said at the sentencing hearing.

He said he, his uncle and friends had been renovating a house he bought on Kahekili Highway, expecting it would be the “final house” for his wife, who had been diagnosed with a potentially disabling disease.

On Feb. 13, 2014, “it was going to be the first night living in my wife’s dream house,” he said. “It was so exciting.”

Kunzelman said he saw two men approach the property from the rocky beach.

His handicapped uncle was “cracked” over the head by the strangers, Kunzelman said, before the men rushed Kunzelman.

“For many minutes, they beat me and terrorized me,” he said.

He said Aki handed co-defendant Kaulana Alo Kaonohi a roofing shovel that was used to hit Kunzelman on the back of his head.

He said the attack was captured in a 23-minute video, along with Kunzelman’s pleas for the men to stop.

“Instead, they said, ‘We’re going to tie you up and drag you, you haole f—er. You’re going missing today, I swear to God. We’re going to cut you up and feed you to the fishes,’ ” Kunzelman said.

He said the defendants told him, “It’s nothing personal, you just have the wrong f—king color skin.”

Kunzelman said he was “seeing stars” when Alo Kaonohi threw him up the stairs and told him to get his belongings and get out.

“I was being violently evicted from my own house,” Kunzelman said.

He said he was legally carrying a gun, which he tossed away when his attackers saw it.  (Wrong move.)…

He said his attackers couldn’t find his gun before Kunzelman and his uncle fled and the intruders smashed windows of the house with the shovel.

Later, he said police told him everything was stolen from the house.

Aki had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening.

In exchange, the prosecution dismissed charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree theft and first-degree criminal property damage.

Saying the first-degree terroristic threatening charge “barely resembles the crime you see in the video,” Kunzelman asked the judge to throw out the plea agreement and have the case go to trial….

“I don’t think he would have gone to the house at all if it weren’t for his cousin,” she said. “For whatever reason, he followed him over. He thought Mr. Kunzelman was trespassing. They also didn’t think he had an easement. That was sort of the impetus to go over there. We’re still unclear whether there’s this valid easement or not.”…

Kunzelman said he can’t go back to his Kahakuloa house.

“Both gates are locked, and they built a fence around my house,” he said….

“Would you let him go back to his house?” Judge Cahill asked.

“Of course, he’s a human being,” Aki replied….

MN: Jail term ordered for unprovoked bar attack

read … Beating victim ‘insulted’ by probation sentence

Climate Litigation at Hawai`i Supreme Court

IM: …. There have been five climate change legal actions in Hawai`i.

The Petition of Joshua Scott & Kids vs. Global Warming was filed with the Hawai`i Department of Health in 2011. Petitioners sought an administrative rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The effort failed.

Sierra Club filed a motion to intervene in the MECO application for approval of the amended and restated power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company in 2015. The Public Utilities Commission rejected the motion. The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld Sierra Club`s constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment.”

The next three climate litigations are all active and were brought about by Life of the Land. The first deals with a proposal to incinerate forests to generate high priced electricity on the Big Island. The Hawai`i Supreme Court upheld Life of the Land`s appeal and a contested case proceeding is underway before the Public Utilities Commission.

The second deals with the Gas Company, a.k.a. Hawaii Gas (HG), a climate change denier. The third deals with a wind farm in which the PUC agreed to a hearing on the issue….

read …  Climate Litigation at Hawai`i Supreme Court

Heading for Supreme Court: Enviro Lawyers Attempt to Block Kauai Water Main Project

KGI: … Kia‘i Wai O Wai‘ale‘ale is well on its way to losing its lawsuit against the county Department of Water, but a lawyer representing the water-rights organization said the legal battle over a proposed 18-inch water main in the Wailua watershed has broader implications, and believes the case will ultimately be settled in the Hawaii Supreme Court….

Water Department officials say the 18-inch water main would improve water flow, add capacity to the Lihue water system and “alleviate the capacity limitation caused by the inadequate segment of water transmission main on Kuhio Highway between Kapaia Bridge and Wilcox Medical Center.”

According to descriptions of the proposed “relief line” attached to the Water Department’s environmental assessment, the proposed “relief line” would improve the capacity to fire hydrants and add redundancy to the Lihue water system, allowing the Water Department “to maintain water service to customers in the event of problems with other transmission mains in the area.”

Kia‘i Wai O Wai‘ale‘ale sued the Water Department over the proposed water main in April 2018, claiming the county was attempting to upgrade its network pipes that divert the flow of water from the Wailua watershed and Lihue basin to meet the increasing demands of urban and commercial development on Kauai’s Eastside without conducting appropriate studies of the project’s impact on the natural flow of water….

… Kia‘i Wai O Wai‘ale‘ale’s attorney accused the county and its Water Department of attempting to move forward with the water system upgrade to ensure an adequate water supply for future Grove Farm real estate developments. Watanabe shot down the allegation, ruling, essentially, that evidence presented in support of the claim were not substantive enough to move forward with….

read … Judge rules for Water Department

Council Asked to Retroactively Approve Partial Privatization of Hawaii County’s Incompetent Bus System

HTH:  The resolution would give the department the authority to contract with one transportation vendor for two functions currently handled by two companies; provide drivers for county-owned buses and provide both drivers and buses for routes when there aren’t enough county buses to fill all the routes.

The request raised concerns because Carreira doesn’t plan to disclose the vendor or the contract amount until after the matter is approved. She said Tuesday during the committee hearing that’s because the request for proposal is sealed, or confidential.

The agency was going to move forward with the award of the contract “within the last week and a half” until Carreira said she was informed that County Charter requires that the council approve multi-year contracts. She said the contract should have been implemented July 1, 2018, prior to her tenure.

“I didn’t realize we had to do this earlier. I would have done it months earlier. But this is just not something that we have done,” said Carreira, who took over the helm Nov. 1 coming from the private sector where she worked as operations manager for Roberts Hawaii and Polynesian Adventures. “The only other multi-year contract lease we’ve done in Mass Transit since I’ve been here is for our new Xerox machine. So I apologize, I didn’t realize we needed to do the resolution in order to even enter into the contract.”

HTH: Council mulls electric buses (idiots still tinkering)

read … Committee signs off on Mass Transit multi-year contract request

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