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Friday, October 04, 2019
October 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:06 PM :: 2518 Views

City completes installation of 53,000 streetlights to energy-saving LEDs

Energy Efficiency: Hawaii Ranks 16th

Mourning the Past Sacrifices the Future

Acting Prosecutor could be fired, disbarred after lying to Council

HNN: … Did the head of the Honolulu prosecutor’s office lie to a city council committee?

That’s what a shocked committee chair is now formally asking after hearing Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto defend several of Katherine Kealoha’s alleged misdeeds.

Councilman Ron Menor sent a letter to Nadamoto on Thursday and it included a warning that deception could cost him his law license and his job.

Nadamoto testified on September 24, before the committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs, regarding a resolution for law enforcement reform….

Nadamoto started his testimony saying he wanted to clarify items in the resolution.

One of those items, that Kealoha went to traffic court urging a judge to throw out a speeding ticket for her electrician.

Nadamoto said the case was part of a bigger investigation into police corruption.

But multiple sources say that is not true and believe the city prosecutors investigation into public corruption was made up to cover up for Kealoha’s ticket fixing.

Kealoha also got a DUI dropped for a long time family friend, author Chris McKinney.

Nadamoto told council members that McKinney was a confidential informant, but federal prosecutors actually call him a co-conspirator in the indictment charging Kealoha with a list of drug crimes….

Another hearing on the resolution will be scheduled by the end of the month and Menor wants to publicly question Nadamoto about his statements….

read … Acting prosecutor’s truth questioned after defending Katherine Kealoha’s actions

Hawaii civilian labor force shrinks as Workers Leave State

HNN: … You probably know that Hawaii has a really low unemployment rate ― one of the nation’s lowest, in fact.

But here’s something you might not be aware of: The state’s civilian workforce is shrinking.

State figures for August put the civilian labor force in Hawaii at 656,800 people. That’s down by more than 20,000 from the same month in 2018.

The drop means Hawaii’s labor force today is about the same size it was five years ago.

State Economist Eugene Tian said there are two reasons that the labor force shrinks: Workers leave the state or they stop looking for a job.

The latter probably isn’t happening to a significant degree, he said.

read … What’s up with Hawaii’s incredible shrinking civilian labor force?

Honolulu Rail’s West Side Station Costs Are Soaring—‘Incomplete Design Drawings’

CB: … On Thursday, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board members gave their initial nod to an $18 million agreement with Nan Inc., the local firm that’s building six of the rail line’s nine westernmost stations.

That deal would resolve about 150 outstanding issues relating to those stations’ construction, according to Frank Kosich, HART’s deputy director for design and construction.

If the full board approves the agreement later this month, it would raise the total change order tally for those nine western stations to nearly $59 million, an increase of about 25% on the original price when their construction contracts were first signed.

“That’s a pretty significant increase,” HART board vice chairman Terrence Lee said Thursday, specifically referring to the trio of stations at the line’s western end. That trio will see their costs rise by at least $31 million if the resolution with Nan gets final approval.

Lee said that Andrew Robbins, HART’s executive director, told him that the stations’ original budget estimates had been calculated with “incomplete design drawings.”

“It is what it is,” Lee added. “It’s kind of a similar story with why the project went from $5 billion to roughly to $8.1 billion in capital costs.”…

read … Honolulu Rail’s West Side Station Costs Are Soaring

HART relocation program costly

SA Editorial: .. a damning federal report revealing that HART’s property relocation program had botched all but six of its 100 cases before 2017 — shortchanging 16 landowners or tenants bumped by rail construction, and overpaying 28 others, “overpayments which were not properly documented and/or did not have basis for payment.”

Because of the shoddy or nonexistent records, HART has returned all of some $4 million in federal relocation dollars, and is now barred from receiving any federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (URA) money. All past and future relocation costs will be paid by Hawaii taxpayers. As of Jan. 19, 2018, that totaled nearly $13.2 million; another 24 relocations remain active, all but one along the pricey City Center route.

That’s not all, unfortunately: The 1970 URA law allows records to remain confidential, so while HART will have to retrace and redo all faulty relocations, the public can’t see those records.

Another galling revelation: Of HART’s 13-person relocation team, “only six considered themselves to be competent or an expert in their understanding of URA requirements for the real estate acquisition and relocation work.”

“It appears that ongoing turnover in HART staff and consultants has resulted in an overall insufficiently experienced staff,” found the Federal Transit Administration report by Hill International, Inc.

That means the do-over will necessitate the hiring of about four relocation-qualified staffers, to ensure that protocols are legally followed, including proper payments….

HART is now working with the FTA to develop and execute a corrective action plan “that will ensure that all the individuals and businesses that were relocated as part of the project during the time period reviewed are treated fairly and consistently.”

It must submit the plan by Oct. 31 to bring the nearly 100 faulty relocations into compliance, which the FTA wants completed by Sept. 30, 2020….

read … Costly

Major rail preparation work to kick off on Dillingham Blvd. next month

HNN: … Rail officials say construction on Dillingham Boulevard is about to accelerate dramatically ― with hundreds of workers on the strip up to 20 hours a day.

Beginning in mid-November, a contractor will kick off work by widening the road and relocating overhead wires to clear the way for construction of the guideway.

HART is promising to keep the busy road open continuously ― and not disrupt bus schedules or pedestrian access….

Officials say the intense schedule is needed so guideway construction toward Downtown from Middle Street can begin next summer and be completed by 2025.

They say the acceleration won’t cost more money because of the reduced time it takes….

KHON: People unpaid and underpaid for rail move wait for make-good; Dillingham construction starts Nov. 12

read … Major rail preparation work to kick off on Dillingham Blvd. next month

City seeks first fines for illegal short-term rental properties—Miske Escapes Fine

SA: … Since Aug. 1 the city already has issued 75 notices of violation to owners that were advertising unpermitted short-term rentals. During the same period, the city also has issued 13 violation notices for vacation rentals that were violating longtime occupancy laws. These numbers suggest that the new advertising law has added extra teeth to city short-term rental enforcement efforts. Last year the city issued only 33 notices of violations and 14 notices of order.

According to DPP policy, property owners who receive a notice of violation have seven days to correct the situation before DPP issues a notice of order, whereby fines begin accruing. The initial fine is $1,000, followed by subsequent daily fines of up to $10,000.

DPP hasn’t collected any fines related to the 75 notices of violations sent to property owners. However, last week it did send out notices of order potentially triggering fines for three property owners that had allegedly violated the short-term rental ban.

The city closed its case against Michael Miske Jr. on Tuesday after confirming that the property owner had corrected his ad on Sept. 25, the same day a notice of order was sent out for recurring short-term rental violations. However, Kathy Sokugawa, acting director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting, wrote Miske that any future violation would be considered recurring, thus triggering a higher fine of $10,000 a day. Miske did not return a call from the Honolulu Star- Advertiser.

The city also issued a notice of order to Christopher and Kim Stevens, who own a seven-bedroom, six-bath Hawaii Kai home at 274 Hakalau Place. They failed to correct an Aug. 26 notice of warning for allegedly violating short-term rental advertising rules. The order instructed the pair to pay a daily fine of $1,000 until the violation was collected.

The pair, who did not return calls from the Star- Advertiser, had sought to become intervening plaintiffs in an Aug. 1 lawsuit filed by the Kokua Coalition against the city Department of Planning and Permitting for its more stringent short-term rental policies.

The city also is pursuing fines from Alexander Wilson, owner of Oahu Photography Tours, who was issued a notice of violation Aug. 14…

read … City seeks first fines for illegal short-term rental properties

Greenhouse Gas Assessment Submitted for Proposed Maui Solar Project

IM: … Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission assessments are becoming the norm at the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission.

This is occurring since the Hawai`i Supreme Court`s ruling in May 2019, supporting Life of the Land`s appeal of the proposed HELCO-Hu Honua Forest Incineration power purchase agreement.

A few weeks ago, Maui Electric Company (MECO) submitted a greenhouse gas life cycle analysis to the Commission for the proposed Paeahu Solar Facility in Maui Meadows.

The analysis was completed by Ramboll Group, a company with 15,500 consulting engineers, designers, and management consultants worldwide.

The first page of the Ramboll web site has a Whistleblower link….

read … Greenhouse Gas Assessment Submitted for Proposed Maui Solar Project

Hawaiian Electric lands $638.5M defense contract

PBN: … These installations include Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Tripler Army Medical Center, Fort Shafter and Army housing areas.

Currently, Hawaiian Electric provides electricity to the Army, which then distributes the electricity to its facilities and bills its users. That process is about to be streamlined to support an Army-wide effort to utilize industry leaders and financing to both upgrade and sustain utilities.

Hawaiian Electric will perform Army-identified capital improvement projects and infrastructure maintenance, paid by the Army through a special billing separate from its regular monthly bill for electricity.

“Privatizing the Army’s electrical system on Oahu supports energy resilience, and energy resilience is critical to Army readiness,” Col. Tom Barrett, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii said in a statement….

IM: PUC to Consider Whether HECO Can Acquire Army Grid

read … Hawaiian Electric lands $638.5M defense contract

Poll: What Hawaiʻi Thinks About Marijuana Laws

HB: Among the general public:

Legalization was favored by 62% of Caucasians, 63% of Native Hawaiians, 30% of Japanese and 35% of Filipinos.

Support for legalization was especially strong on Maui and Kauaʻi.

57% of those who do not have a college degree support legalization. This proportion drops to 37% among college graduates.

read … What Hawaiʻi Thinks About Marijuana Laws

Hawaiʻi’s Medical Marijuana Oligopoly

HB: … The state government opted for a tightly controlled, vertically integrated industry of eight companies. Other states created more open systems.

When Christopher Garth started the nonprofit Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance in 2016, he envisioned the Islands as a leader on the global cannabis stage – a Hawai‘i that let its paka lōlō roots blossom into a bustling industry, where cannabis stood beside hospitality and agriculture as a local economic force. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana industry is a state-sanctioned oligopoly. The eight licensed companies with 10 outlets statewide control all the legal growing, processing and sale of medical marijuana. There are no outlets on Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, and patients are not allowed to transport marijuana between islands.

Garth and other cannabis advocates who are outside the oligopoly say strict government regulations and an inadequate state administrative direction have created an ineffectual industry in which dispensaries charge high prices for their limited number of products to stay afloat.

As a result, many people in Hawai‘i – including some with medical marijuana cards – turn to the black market for easier access, lower prices, a wider variety of products and similar quality, according to the industry advocates and patients interviewed by Hawaii Business Magazine….

one factor keeping prices high at the legal dispensaries: low sales volume.

states like Florida and Massachusetts are experiencing around an 8% compound monthly growth in medical cannabis patients, but Hawai‘i is experiencing an average compound monthly growth of less than 3%, according to data from the state DOH. And the monthly growth from March to May 2019 averaged only 2%.

“I think a lot of people have these unrealistic expectations of how huge or how big this market is going to be and how fast it was going to happen,” says Goldstein. “And the fact of the matter is the market has grown substantially slower than all of us had expected.”…

black market dealers hang outside of Smokey’s Waikiki, a smoke paraphernalia shop, to scout potential customers. Dealers watch from afar and note tourists who express interest in the shop.

“They keep watch of whoever stops to look at the bong display in the window, or whoever says anything like, ‘Wow, I wonder how much bongs are out here.’ And he will approach them like, ‘Maui Wowie, $20 a gram,’” says Evans.

As of March 2018, tourists who qualify as medical marijuana patients can purchase cannabis from Hawai‘i’s licensed dispensaries through a reciprocity program. However, the tourists must first apply for a $49.50 medical card, which dispensary owners say is an inefficient, costly and complex process for visitors.

“The $20 a gram the gangsters charge, that’s tourist price – that’s the Waikīkī price. But it’s a few bucks cheaper than what dispensaries charge,” says Evans….

“I’m out paying $16.50 a gram for dabs in Arizona, which out here cost $75 a gram,” he says. “I just got back – I flew back with 70 grams. And I have about a year’s supply left, so it’s my own black market.”…

read … Hawaiʻi’s Medical Marijuana Oligopoly

Homeless Mayhem: Knife threat just latest incident in Kahului area

HTH: … 55-year-old Kim Bak-Young said she avoided injury while being threatened with a knife last week at a Kahului building in an area plagued by homeless issues and other incidents, including a shooting.

Bak-Young was walking up the stairs of the Kahului Office Center across the street from the old Safeway along Hoohana Street around 10 a.m. Sept. 26 when she was met by an man in his 60s coming the opposite way down the stairs.

The man, who was barefoot and unkept, asked her for money.

Bak-Young told the man she didn’t have any money. The man then demanded her bag, which she gave him because it contained only paperwork, which she could replace.

The man pulled out a kitchen knife with about a 6-inch blade….

On Sept. 12 at around 4 a.m., a homeless man shot at another homeless man on Hoohana Street near the Kahului Office Center and the old Safeway. Police said the victim was shot with a 1942 U.S. Navy World War II MKV signal flare pistol loaded with a 12-gauge birdshot shotgun shell.

The victim, who was shot in the back of the head and upper back, survived. Manuel Nunes Jr. has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting.

Hours earlier at around 5 p.m. Sept. 11, a 41-year-old man driving an Acura hit cars and climbed over a raised parking island in the old Safeway parking lot fronting Kamehameha Avenue and died from his injuries. Witnesses said the man, who frequented the parking lot, appeared to be suffering from a ‘medical’ condition. He was identified as Jeremy Tackett, 41, of Kahului….

read … Knife threat just latest incident in Kahului area

Soft on Crime: Trespasser Grabs Elem School Student in Cafeteria, Released by HPD

HNN: … The school posted the sign pictured here on one of its fences on Thursday, asking that anyone contact police if they see her.

The woman was caught trying to get on campus twice last Thursday, she walked into the cafeteria that morning and later grabbed a student.

She was arrested by Honolulu Police and later released, leaving some parents fearing for the safety of their children….

SA: UH-Maui College closes for day due to anonymous threat

read … Soft on Crime

Snorkel Rentals Kill: 2 die in separate ocean incidents on Hawaii Island

HNN: … The first fatality happened at Mahukona Beach Park just after 1 p.m.

A woman in her 60s died after she was spotted face down in the water while snorkeling.

Officials brought her to shore where she was then taken to North Kohala Hospital in critical condition. She later died, fire officials said.

The woman’s name has not yet been released.

Then around 2:15 p.m., crews were dispatched to Pololu Valley in North Kohala.

There, a man was found unresponsive on the beach as bystanders performed CPR….

read … Snorkel Rentals Kill

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