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Thursday, October 03, 2019
October 3, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:09 PM :: 800 Views

Hawaii is one of three states that allows schools to deny students access to school lunches due to unpaid meal debt

How to improve Hawaii’s business climate

Weigh in on Caldwell’s $772 million splurge on replacing the Blaisdell Arena

Maunakea: Cost of not enforcing the law -- $8.3 million and Counting

SA: … The state and counties have spent at least $8.3 million on law enforcement costs related to the Thirty Meter Telescope standoff on Mauna Kea that began in mid-July.

That figure includes new cost information released by the Hawaii Attorney General’s office and state Department of Land and Natural Resources on Tuesday, as well as prior amounts disclosed by the counties.

The total costs to date are sure to be higher than what’s been released as some of the figures only go through the end of August or mid-September.

The Attorney General’s office said today that it’s cost $985,000 through Aug. 30 for the Hawaii National Guard. Dozens of officers have helped staff a checkpoint and assisted law enforcement with transportation and personnel.

The office also disclosed that the state Public Safety Department, which oversees the state sheriff’s division, has spent $558,000 through Aug. 15.

The Attorney General’s office has expended another $1.5 million through Sept. 6.

DLNR has spent $601,000 to date on costs relating to officers with its Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement who have maintained an ongoing presence on the mountain since the conflict began. Those costs include overtime and cost differentials, as well as money spent on equipment, travel and lodging.

Meanwhile, Hawaii County has spent more than $4.4 million on TMT-related costs, most of it on overtime for police officers, according to updated figures released by the county Tuesday.

The Honolulu and Maui County police departments spent about $260,000 combined in overtime, travel and vehicle shipping.

Earlier this year, the state budgeted $15 million to be used for TMT-related costs….

read … State, counties spend at least $8.3 million on law enforcement for Thirty Meter Telescope protest

Kim Will Ask Nicely: Reopen Road to Mauna Kea

SA: … The plan rightly aims to trade the ongoing impasse at Mauna Kea Access Road, which is based, in part, on “yes” or “no” divides, for working together to find a path to reasonable compromise that’s favorable to all involved. Success in this step will hinge on trust and levelheaded reflection.

On Monday, Kim said he would ask TMT opponents, who equate construction with desecration, to remove the barricades that have blocked the access road since mid-July and reopen it during discussions, with the understanding that telescope equipment will not ascend to the construction site while negotiations are underway….

Meanwhile: Anti-TMT forces step up their campaign off the mountain

read … Kim offers a way forward on TMT

City Council stalls on a resolution to turbine project

SA: … A Honolulu City Council committee on Wednesday held off action on a resolution sought by Kahuku residents that presses the Department of Planning and Permitting to more tightly regulate a wind farm project going up next to area schools.

Na Pua Makani Power Partners is putting up a 24-megawatt wind farm consisting of eight wind turbine generators and obtained three minor conditional use permits from DPP to do so.

Project opponents say building permits were pulled by the developer after deadlines imposed by the conditional use permits, that the work is beyond the scope of allowable noise levels and proximity of windmills to schools or farms, and that DPP has failed to act against these violations….

Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, who represents the North Shore, urged members of the Council Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee to give its OK to Resolution 19-241, which she introduced. The resolution urges DPP to “strictly enforce compliance with all applicable conditions and laws pertaining to permits and approvals” for the project.

But Zoning Chairman Ron Menor said too much new information had been unveiled and that the resolution needed to be “taken under advisement” to allow him and his colleagues time to study the community concerns with the city’s need to promote renewable energy.

Tsuneyoshi, who was visibly upset by Menor’s recommendation, said he would not be holding up the resolution if the project was going up next to schools in Mililani or Waipahu, districts he represents. 

Big Q: Overall, do you support more wind farms on Oahu?

SA Editorial: Wary eye on turbines

read … City Council stalls on a resolution to turbine project

Lawsuit: Kauai Emergency an Excuse to Shut Down TVRs

TGI: … The former owners of a vacation rental property in Haena are suing the County of Kauai over an emergency order restricting visitor access to North Shore neighborhoods following severe flooding in the area last April.

According to a federal lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by California residents Susan and Geoffrey Flint, Kauai County officials used a series of emergency mayoral proclamations issued in the wake of the floods as a “convenient cover” to further their goal of eliminating legally permitted, short-term vacation rental operations in the area.

On April 14, 2018, former Mayor Bernard Carvalho signed an emergency proclamation in response to increasingly dangerous conditions on the North Shore caused by sudden torrential rains, flash flooding in Hanalei River and landslides near Lumahai….

The TVR ban took effect in early May 2018 and lasted nearly a year, until it was modified by the Kawakami administration to allow visitors with reservations at permitted TVRs to access the area….

Meanwhile: IGE EXTENDS DISASTER RELIEF PERIOD FOR LAST YEAR’S KAUAI FLOODS

read … Former TVR owners sue county

Hurt by protests, Hong Kong duty-free group slashes Singapore jobs

NAR:  Hong Kong-based duty-free operator DFS Group is laying off hundreds of workers in Singapore and Hawaii, as protracted protests at its home base and the U.S.-China trade war eat into earnings.

The group, a unit of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, notified employees who were losing their jobs in Singapore late last month. It made a public announcement on Wednesday.

Over 100 staffers in Singapore will be cut, including in stores and in tech and finance departments, a source familiar with the matter said. The layoffs will take place over the next several months.

A company spokesperson cited challenges among retail businesses aimed toward travelers. Affected workers were told it was "because business was under pressure from the trade war and turmoil in Hong Kong," according to a source.

DFS announced in August that it would close its alcohol and tobacco stores at airports by June next year. The roughly 500 workers involved in these operations were notified Wednesday regarding plans of their layoff.

The company also laid off 165 workers in Hawaii late last month, citing losses from a decrease in Asian travelers. Chinese tourists in particular had been crucial to luxury item sales….

read … Hurt by protests, Hong Kong duty-free group slashes Singapore jobs

Sherwood Forest: Contractor to Remove Burned Bulldozer

HNN: … Contractors are returning to Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Thursday, but they won’t be resuming work on the controversial park redevelopment project.

Instead, they will be removing the bulldozer that was set on fire back in May.

An investigation into who torched the construction equipment is still ongoing, but HPD confirms it’s being investigated as first-degree arson, which city officials say is punishable by 20 years in prison.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell confirms the city has suspended construction of a controversial Waimanalo park development project until the State Historical Preservation Division and the Oahu Island Burial Council can evaluate a possible artifact that was discovered over the weekend.

read … Arson

Test results show a spike in drug use among Hawaii workers

HNN: … Diagnostic Laboratory Services, which does quarterly workforce drug testing, says it saw a 27-percent increase in the use of amphetamines over last year.

There was an even higher jump in cocaine use, posting a 46-percent year-to-year jump.

Diagnostic Labs also detected a 70-percent increase in the use of synthetic urine from last year. It’s often used to try and mask the presence of drugs.

And as for marijuana, the lab found no significant changes….

read … Test results show a spike in drug use among Hawaii workers

Who Really Earns The Minimum Wage?

CB: … Most of these workers are not poor and are not trying to support a family on only their earnings….

All informed discussion about the minimum wage must by necessity start with the “Characteristics of the minimum wage workers” reports put out annually by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics….

In the 2018 edition of the report, the latest, readers will find that in the very first paragraph minimum-wage workers make up only 2% of all hourly paid workers in the nation — a far lower rate than the 14% a recent report stated live in Hawaii.

Statistical differences aside, the real issue is whether entry-level jobs would be cut if the minimum wage is increased dramatically.

According to the BLS report, minimum wage workers tend to be young.

Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up just under half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers (ages 16 to 19) paid by the hour, about 8% earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 1% of workers age 25 and older….

After the release of one such BLS report, economist Jeffrey Dorfman, in an article in Forbes magazine, dove deeper into the numbers to find out more about who these minimum-wage workers were.

“Within that tiny group, most of these workers are not poor and are not trying to support a family on only their earnings. In fact, according to a recent study, 63% of workers who earn less than $9.50 per hour (well over the [federal] minimum wage of $7.25) are the second or third earner in their family and 43% of these workers live in households that earn over $50,000 per year….

read … Who Really Earns The Minimum Wage?

Green Fees: Enviros have a New Name for a Tax Increase

CB: … A growing number of tourism hot spots, ranging from Mallorca to Bhutan to New Zealand, are imposing new taxes and fees on visitors ….

read … How ‘Green Fees’ Might Offset The Hidden Costs Of Tourism In Hawaii

Just in Time for N Pacific Winter Storms, Pacific Eco-Boom is ‘working’ now

SA: … Boyan Slat, a university dropout who founded The Ocean Cleanup nonprofit, announced that the floating boom is skimming up waste ranging in size from a discarded net and a car wheel complete with tire to chips of plastic measuring just 1 millimeter.

The results are promising enough to begin designing a second system to send to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area of floating plastic trash twice the size of Texas, Slat said.

But he sounded a note of caution, saying “if the journey to this point taught us anything it is that it’s definitely not going to be easy.”

The floating boom with a tapered 10-foot-deep (3-meter-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

After it was towed out to sea last year, the barrier did not catch any trash in its first weeks of operation because it was moving at the same speed as the plastic. That problem was overcome by using an underwater parachute anchor to slow the boom so it catches quicker moving trash.

Also, late last year, the barrier broke under the constant pummeling by wind and waves in the Pacific, requiring four months of repairs before being relaunched from Vancouver in June.

The system also experienced a problem with “overtopping” — waves that pushed the plastic over the line of floating corks that hold the screen. That was solved by using a line of larger corks to corral the plastic.

… Slat did not say when the second version would be ready for launch….

Really Obvious Question: How many winter storms will it take to destroy this thing (again)?

Meanwhile: Storm Water Quality branch hosts ‘Make A Difference Month’ cleanups

read … Ocean cleaning boom between California and Hawaii is now working, Dutch inventor says

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