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Monday, September 23, 2019
September 23, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:09 PM :: 1451 Views

Telescope Protesters Lead 'Two Minute Hate'

Council Bungles Rail Cover-up Money—May Require Re-Vote

SA: … A Honolulu City Council measure approving more money for a controversial and mysterious city contract with a California-based law firm contains erroneous information, a situation that could force Council members to redo their vote.

The Council voted 7-2 on Sept. 4 to pass Resolution 19-216 authorizing $75,000 in additional funding be paid to Farella Braun and Martel for what has only been described by the Department of Corporation Counsel as consulting services for “matters involving criminal law.” The resolution, which was drafted by Corporation Counsel, said the Council had previously voted to authorize $150,000 for the job, bumping the total amount to $225,000.

The problem is that when the Council passed Resolution 19-47, it was for $100,000 — not $150,000 as stated in the second measure….

Further complicating the situation is that Council members have voted twice now to hire lawyers to block the release of documents seized by federal authorities for an investigation — or investigations they know little about.

The city Department of Corporation Counsel on Friday confirmed in an email that the more recent resolution contained erroneous information. However, the department does have a total of $225,000 available for the Farella contract because it has $50,000 in funding that did not require authorization from the Council, the email said.

The department declined to say whether the $75,000 allotment, or the contract itself, is in jeopardy, whether there are other consequences caused by the mistake or whether a new resolution needs to be passed.

City attorneys “will be meeting with the City Council next week to decide on the best course of action,” the email said.

Councilman Ron Menor, who chairs the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, said he will place the issue on the agenda of its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. As is frequently the case with legal matters, the matter will be discussed with Corporation Counsel attorneys in executive session outside of the public’s view….

CB: Honolulu Must Reveal Why It Hired Mainland Attorneys

read … City lawyers admit Council passed erroneous bill

ERS Underfunded by $13.4B

CB: … The Employee Retirement System supports public employees in Hawaii, and it’s underfunded by $13.4 billion.

This unfunded liability has grown for a few reasons. First, local population growth has leveled off. Second, market returns have tumbled. Third, employees were not asked to contribute enough during their careers to adequately fund their retirements.

It’s not uncommon to find ERS-supported retirees who collect retirement benefits nearly as long as they were employed.

If someone started working for the state at age 30, they could retire at age 65 and collect both their ERS benefits and Social Security benefits. This would be fine if those workers died shortly thereafter, but many are living into their 80s, and some are living even longer.

Former State Director of Budget and Finance, Wes Machida, has noted that teachers and professors are living longer than any other employee group. Female teachers, for instance, have a median life expectancy older than 90….

read … Some Ideas

Renewable Energy Definition Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

IM: …Renewable energy is a political definition that varies between governments and changes over time. The Hawai`i Legislature enacted several different definitions of renewable energy over the past 18 years….

Various renewable energy definitions used around the United States have included or excluded specific concepts from the definition.

Should it include nuclear energy? Nuclear does not count as a renewable energy in Hawai`i.

Should all hydroelectric or only small hydroelectric count? Larger dams block rivers and the natural flow of species. The fight over whether to include or exclude large dams in particularly intense in California.

All hydro count in Hawai`i. O`ahu has several dams trapping billions of gallons of water and none generate electricity.

Should energy efficiency count as renewable energy or should there be separate goals for energy efficiency? Hawai`i went with the former approach in the early years of this century but now goes with the latter approach….

read … Renewable Energy Definition Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

Maui County: $270K to Clean up After Homeless on Market Street

SA: … Like many places in Hawaii, Maui has seen a growing number of vagrants, the mentally ill, substance abusers and homeless on the streets, and nowhere is the problem more apparent than Wailuku town.

An innovative program called Wailuku Clean & Safe has gone a long way toward alleviating concerns of merchants, residents and visitors by increasing neighborhood safety and improving the appearance of streets. Since the summer of 2016, the county-funded program has made big strides on a surprisingly modest budget. In the current fiscal year, that amount is $270,000.

This outreach is the brainchild of Erin Wade, a former small-town planner for the county who now heads its Maui Redevelopment Agency. Wade patterned the program after a similar venture in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. The idea is to put security personnel on the streets to give immediate personal attention to problems as they arise.

The program also has a street maintenance component that provides part-time, minimum-wage jobs for clients of the nonprofit organization Mental Health Kokua, located nearby. These workers sweep rubbish and collect trash; the results go a long way to maintain the appearance of the Market Street corridor….

read … Program improves Maui area’s security and maintenance

Snorkel Rentals Kill: Sisters save snorkeler at Hanauma Bay

HNN: … While Janessa was relaxing on the beach, she noticed one snorkeler in the water.

"I don't know why I just decided to watch her but I'm glad I did. I noticed she wasn't moving," said Janessa Samodio.

Janessa then plunged into the water, and with the help of her brother, brought the unconscious snorkeler ashore.

"When we first pulled her out unfortunately we thought she was already gone," said Samodio.

The snorkeler woke during CPR and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but alive.

According to Honolulu Emergency Medical Services, snorkeling is the leading cause of drownings in Hawaii. Ocean safety has extended its Hanauma Bay hours which they say results in far fewer CPR cases….

read … Sisters save snorkeler at Hanauma Bay

Snorkel Rentals Kill: Tour operators start ban on full-face snorkel masks

SA: … Over a 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, there have been an average of 21 fatal drownings among snorkelers each year in Hawaii, according to the state Health Department, with the majority being visitors. The number of fatal drownings among snorkelers in Hawaii has increased — from 16 in 2014 to 31 in 2018, according to statistics provided by state epidemiologist Dan Galanis.

From 2009 to 2018 there were 206 ocean drownings that occurred during snorkeling, compared with 142 while swimming and 51 while surfing and bodyboarding.

Based on Emergency Services Department records, the state Health Department estimates there are an additional 40 to 50 snorkelers who suffer near drownings in Hawaii….

A state panel, the Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee, is examining whether snorkeling equipment is a contributing factor to drownings, but has yet to draw definitive conclusions.

In April the state Health Department launched, an informational website aiming to decrease drowning risk factors through education and prevention….

the state Health Department also said the belief that using a traditional mask and snorkel is safer than a full-face snorkel mask is a myth. Snorkeling-related drownings occurred before full-face masks became available, it said, and “there is currently no evidence proving that a specific type of snorkel equipment is dangerous.”….

read … It won’t be enough

Money the state budgeted for educational composting programs is given to an engineering company

SA:  … Last year, Gov. David Ige signed Act 207 into law, authorizing the state Department of Education to issue grants to establish composting grant pilot projects at public schools and a working group, with an allocation of $300,000….

the DOE awarded a professional services contract to Okahara & Associates, an engineering firm with a long list of clients that include various city and state agencies.

The DOE said it had contracted Okahara & Associates for $285,000 “to assist in establishing the framework for a composting pilot program and campus composting guidelines.”

This contract, the DOE said, was awarded via the professional services procurement method and that Okahara & Associates was qualified because the firm has registered and licensed landscape architects and arborists on staff.

After examining the law, the DOE determined the grant process would constitute parceling, which is prohibited under the state’s procurement laws. So it opted to encumber the funds, but said it might modify the contract so they can support schools with existing composting programs.

Initially, an application form was sent out for amounts of $24,999, and by all appearances was one, with a deadline of June 15 and a set of instructions, according to Mindy Jaffe, coordinator of the Windward Zero Waste Hui…..

read … Money the state budgeted for educational composting programs is given to an engineering company

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