UH Regents Plan: Lets Close Down Some Perfectly Good Telescopes
Bill 37: Why Contractors Should Compete
First 'Ohana Zone' Homeless Shelter opens in Hilo
Critical flaws plague new study linking ‘heavy’ pesticide exposure to cardiovascular disease
Old Boy Insiders Pour Money into Kahele Campaign
CB: … U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard raised $3 million in three months to help bolster her campaign for president, but she still lags far behind much of the 2020 Democratic field….
The FEC reports show Gabbard spent about $300,000 more than she raised during the third quarter, leaving her with about $2.1 million in cash.
Among other expenditures, Gabbard reported paying $128,000 in payments to website and digital management firm, Northwest Digital, based in Stehekin, Washington, a remote wilderness area in the Northern Cascades.
That was in addition to the $259,000 Gabbard had paid the company and owner Kris Robinson from January to July. Civil Beat reported on the puzzling expenditures to Robinson in September. Robinson, like Gabbard, is affiliated with the Science of Identity Foundation, an offshoot of Hare Krishna that former followers have described as a cult….
So far Kahele has raised more than $501,000 in his quest to oust Gabbard, who has not yet said whether she will run for re-election if she loses out on the Democratic nomination for president. About $102,000 of Kahele’s money came in the third quarter of 2019, according to FEC records….
Kahele got significant financial backing from donors in Hawaii, including several people who are well-known lobbyists.
For instance, George “Red” Morris, the president of Capitol Consultants has donated thousands of dollars to Kahele’s campaign as have his lobbyist colleagues Bruce Coppa and Blake Oshiro.
Other familiar names include Walter Dods, who was the campaign chairman for the late-U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, and Colbert Matsumoto, a well-connected businessman who used to serve on the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation….
Hawaii Congressman Ed Case, who represents urban Oahu and does not yet face a challenge for his seat, reported raising just under $71,000 in the third quarter of 2019, largely from political action committees.
Case limited his expenditures to about $17,000, money that mostly went toward a Washington, D.C.-based fundraising consultant, Eckert & Associates, which boasts a number of current and former House members on its client roster, including Mark Takai, Hawaii’s former U.S. representative who died in 2016….
Some of Case’s notable donors include his sister, Suzanne Case, who is the head of the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources, and Randall Roth, a University of Hawaii professor who’s best known as an opponent of Honolulu’s $9 billion rail project and the co-author of “Broken Trust,” a book that detailed mismanagement, fraud and political manipulation at the Bishop Estate.
Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman Loretta Sheehan also donated to Case’s re-election campaign as did Nan Shin, whose company Nan Inc. is a major federal contractor in Hawaii and does a lot of work on rail. Of the $71,000 Case’s campaign raised, more than $41,000 came from political action committees, including those representing unions, defense contractors and hoteliers….
Sen. Brian Schatz isn’t up for election until 2022. According to his campaign’s FEC reports, he raised about $343,000 during the third quarter of the year and has more than $3 million in the bank.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, meanwhile, won another six-year term in 2018 and her seat won’t be on the ballot until 2024. Records from the FEC show Hirono’s campaign raised more than $106,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, and that she has nearly $896,000 in cash on hand….
read … Old Boys Last Hope
Day Three: Kahuku Protesters Block Gigantic Bat Killing Devices from Being Installed
SA: … The company planning to build a wind farm in Kahuku “should be allowed to proceed,” Gov. David Ige’s office said Tuesday as protesters continued to rally at the construction site.
Protesters gathered for a third day Tuesday near Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku to block the developer from delivering the heavy equipment needed to begin construction of the Na Pua Makani wind farm project.
The project’s developer, Virginia-based developer AES Corp., intended for Sunday to be the start of a seven-week schedule for delivering turbine parts from Kalaeloa Harbor, where pieces weighing over 100,000 pounds were shipped, to the Kahuku project site leased from the state.
“We are told the AES Corp. has met all of the permitting requirements and therefore, should be allowed to proceed,” said Jodi Leong, spokeswoman for the governor, in a written statement.
When asked whether the state will have the protesters removed to allow AES to move the turbine parts onto the property, Leong wrote, “The state is not allowing protestors to camp out on state land.”….
Related: LIVE Video: Kahuku Protesters Blockade Wind Turbine Shipment for a Second Night
Related: Wind Farms Could Drive Bats to Extinction
read … Gov. David Ige backs wind farm’s construction in Kahuku
Protests concern Hawaii business leaders
SA: … Hawaii often gets rapped as being unfriendly to business over regulations, taxes and litigation. Now a new layer to this perception may be forming as activists inhibit construction of three development projects.
“It’s a very big concern for us,” said Gino Soquena, executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s sad to say, but it sends a bad message to people about doing business in Hawaii.”
Soquena, whose organization represents 15 local construction trade unions, said members had concerns that the so-far unresolved occupation of a road leading to the summit of Mauna Kea by opponents of the planned $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope would embolden others to disrupt upcoming controversial, though legally permitted, construction projects….
read … Protests concern Hawaii business leaders
Plan B: Louis Kealoha Files For Divorce From Katherine Kealoha
CB: … The former Honolulu police chief filed for divorce from his wife, an ex-deputy city prosecutor, in the First Circuit Family Court Tuesday afternoon.
The marriage is irretrievably broken, Louis Kealoha indicated in his complaint for divorce. He also indicated Katherine should not be entitled to any spousal support….
The step toward divorce creates distance between the couple, who showed up to federal court almost every day during the last trial in matching outfits and holding hands, said Ken Lawson, a University of Hawaii criminal law instructor who has been watching the corruption investigation.
They were trying to show the jury that they were close, he said, although a Big Island firefighter had admitted to having an “intimate relationship” with Katherine Kealoha.
“That didn’t work,” Lawson said. “Now it’s plan B.”
Removing himself from Katherine Kealoha may be Louis Kealoha’s best shot at getting acquitted in the bank fraud case, he said.
However, spousal privilege, a legal term that means spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, would still apply even if the Kealohas are going through divorce or the divorce is concluded during trial, Lawson said….
SA: Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha files for divorce from Katherine
PDF: Divorce Filing
read … Louis Kealoha Files For Divorce From Katherine Kealoha
Water Rights: Kauai Bottled Water Case Back in Court
TGI: … A case that began before the county planning commission and made its way to the highest court in the state continued Tuesday in Kauai’s circuit court, where a judge appeared on the verge of siding with a Koloa couple embroiled in the 13-year legal battle.
“The court is very familiar with the facts of this case,” Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe said, opening proceedings in a case she first handled over a decade ago, when the owners of a Koloa water bottling company contested the Kauai County Planning Commission’s decision to revoke the business’ water and land use permits….
According to Meyers, the Satterfields started their business intending to work in accordance with the public trust doctrine established by the Hawaii Constitution and the water rights it is meant to protect and regulate.
Meyers also pointed out that Kauai Springs was originally denied its permits when the commission ruled against the recommendation of its own hearing officer, who determined that the Satterfields had met the burdens necessary to guarantee that their operation would not damage the public’s water resources.
“He said, ‘Give them their permits,’” Meyers said of the planning department officer. “But six members of the planning commission said, ‘Forget it.’ They didn’t want to deal with the issue of water rights, and it’s a big issue on this island.”…
The Satterfields also maintain that the amount of water their business consumes is such a small fraction of the pipeline’s overall output that any potential damage or diversion of the water would be negligible.
“We’re talking about 650 gallons out of 290,000 that flow through their property every day,” Meyers said. “They’re barely touching it.”…
2007: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water
read … Water rights contested
Electric Cars: Elon Musk Needs More Money So Lets Make Housing More Expensive in Hawaii
CB: … Only about 1% of cars here are electric vehicles. Advocates say boosting that number requires mandating builders install charging stations at new developments. …as they campaign to get more electric cars on Hawaii’s roads. They’re also pushing for more charging stations and are supporting a Honolulu City Council bill that would require developers to wire newly constructed parking lots to make it easier to install charging stations….
Opponents say the requirement will increase housing costs on an island where home prices already are out of reach for many people. Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Hawaii, estimates the measure will cost $11,000 extra per EV-ready parking stall. It’s a big investment, he testified, when just one out of 100 cars is now electric.
Meanwhile, Saunders questioned whether the move would do much to reduce energy use.
“It is highly questionable that providing 25% of the parking stalls to address less than 1% of the vehicles on Oahu will actually result in energy savings,” Saunders wrote in testimony opposing the measure. “We do know that such a 25% mandate will require max capacity planning for us and HECO resulting in increased transformer capacity for the projects and the entire community resulting in higher development costs to be passed on to all home buyers.”…
SA: HECO Backs Bill 25
Bill 25: Text, Status
read … Why Hawaii Still Has So Few Electric Cars
TVR Ban Guts 8% of Room Inventory
CB: … Recently the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization released a report warning that Hawaii’s economy is at a standstill and faces serious headwinds due in part to the uncertainty created by Oahu’s overly punitive short-term rental regulations (“Economists: Airbnb Crackdown Will Likely Cause Big Drop In Oahu Tourism”).
This report is a wakeup call for lawmakers in Oahu and across the state, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The UHERO report echoes the findings of other reports, including one we commissioned by Oahu-based Kloninger and Sims, which predicted Oahu’s short-term regulations would cost the Oahu economy more than $1 billion in economic activity and up to 7,000 jobs, and another by the Oahu Alternative Lodging Association which warned the new laws would lead to 50,000-80,000 fewer visitors per month.
In the nearly three months since the law went into effect, UHERO estimates there has been a “greater-than-8% drop in Oahu’s overall visitor plant inventory.” …
In recent earnings calls with investors, executives from Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines expressed their concerns about Bill 89. Peter Ingram, President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines explained that the crackdown on short-term rentals, “…will either make it potentially more expensive or more difficult for people who want to have those sort of accommodation experiences and that may manifest itself in some pressure on demand from North America.”
While our local economy struggles with the impacts, many of the predictions espoused by proponents of the law — including a claim that a reduction in short-term rentals would alleviate housing affordability — have not come to fruition. In a recent interview with KITV, local market researcher Rick Cassidy explained, “People really claimed [short-term rentals] were taking units out of the market, but I didn’t see that.” ….
read … Honolulu Made A Big Mistake In Punishing Short-Term Rentals
Bill 55: Massive Property Tax Hikes on TVRs
SA Editorial: …Moving through the City Council is Bill 55, which would create a new property tax category for homeowners operating hosted bed-and-breakfast establishments….
The proposed “Bed and Breakfast Home” property tax category should be set about midway between the residential category (currently $3.50 for every $1,000 of assessed value) and the hotel-resort category ($13.90 per $1,000). The Council sets tax rates for the categories each June.
Residential A rates — for properties assessed at $1 million or more and are ineligible for home tax exemption granted for owner-occupied status — are $4.50 per $1,000 for the first $999,999 of value, and $10.50 for every $1,000 above $999,999….
The bill also aims to clear up fuzziness on designation of a category for some 770 un-hosted transient vacation units, or whole-home vacation rentals, by placing all in the hotel-resort category. That level seems appropriate — as does closing the door on more TVUs in residential areas, a provision of Ordinance 19-018, which took effect in August….
read … Set new property tax rate for B&Bs
UH Pay Increases For Top Executives Drawing Scrutiny
CB: … Several top-level executives at the University of Hawaii received double-digit percent pay increases this year based on a policy that allows UH president David Lassner to make “additional special adjustments” to make sure they don’t go elsewhere and to account for new job duties.
The changes, which bring four UH vice-presidents and the general counsel to a salary of $272,040, reflect pay increases ranging from 6.1% in the case of Donald Straney, VP for academic affairs, up to 14.1%, in the case of Garret Yoshimi, VP for information technology.
The other substantial pay increases affect the VP for administration Jan Gouveia (12%); VP for budget and finance Kalbert Young (10.8%); and general counsel Carrie Okinaga (11.2%)….
ILind: Salary increases for UH administrators questioned
read … UH Pay Increases For Top Executives Drawing Scrutiny
Growing concerns about Molokai’s only health center trigger calls for CEO’s resignation
HNN: … Dozens of residents waved signs outside Molokai Community Health Center on Tuesday to call for the CEO and the board of the beleaguered facility to resign.
Residents had hoped to voice their concerns at a community meeting set for Tuesday.
But the meeting was abruptly canceled….
Concerns about the facility grew in August, when the health center was forced to shut its doors for four days due to staff shortages.
The facility apologized, saying they addressed the staff shortages that led to the medical department’s partial closure. They said It was an unusual circumstance that they do not believe will happen again….
They had a meeting planned for Tuesday to speak to residents about their complaints.
But on Monday night, the CEO sent an email out that said:
"We made the difficult decision to postpone the community meeting out of concern for the safety of our board and staff. We’re very sorry to community members who planned on attending but ensuring the safety of everyone in attendance is our top priority.” ….
read … Growing concerns about Molokai’s only health center trigger calls for CEO’s resignation
Former foster child files suit against CPS, alleging repeated sexual abuse
HNN: … The suit claims the girl was 13 when she was placed in a Big Island home in July of 2013. A family friend would visit and was allowed to sleep over, even though the girl’s sister says she warned a social worker he had abused her.
The suit alleges the man repeatedly assaulted her, and so did her foster mom’s adult son.
No one was ever charged with abuse tied to the allegations….
read … Former foster child files suit against CPS, alleging repeated sexual abuse
Vacant DHHL Homes Sit 5-6 Years
KITV: … "There's well over 300-400 vacant homes that DHHL has taken back from homesteaders that sit vacant for 5-6 years. They end up evicting a family and the home sits there vacant," she added.
SCHHA says about 275 families are delinquent on their loans and it launched a Foreclosure Prevention Program to educate residents on their options.
They note that 90% of families who can't make their payments experienced a debilitating financial event like divorce, death, job loss or sudden health issue.
Out of some 9,800 DHHL beneficiaries, nearly half have mortgages overseen by the state. Of those mortgages, 15 lessees were evicted and had their leases canceled, nearly double the previous year.
A DHHL spokesman says every beneficiary is given due process, including a hearing with the Hawaiian Homes Commission and financial counseling.
The agency says it has 49 delinquent cases so far this year….
read … More Hawaiian homeland residents struggling with loan payments, face eviction
Pesticides: Clowns in Hazard Suits Perform Before Hawaii County Council (again)
WHT: … Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy and Councilman Aaron Chung quizzed Autumn Ness, program director of the group Beyond Pesticides, and Sierra Club Hawaii Island Group spokesman Blake Watson, who helped draft the legislation, about specifics in the bill.
Public Works Director David Yamamoto, when asked by Chung, said his department has cut its herbicide use by half.
“But they continue struggling to keep the grass down on the sides of the roads,” Yamamoto said. “Herbicides are the go-to alternative to keep the weeds down.”
Yamamoto said his department will comply with the bill, but it will take a consultant to come in and train his crews, and it may take increased manpower and new equipment.
Both Yamamoto and Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina said the transition will likely require more money in addition to more manpower. Also, Messina said, the department will be looking to sports teams and other volunteers to help maintain the fields, and they probably won’t look as “pristine” as they do now.
“We just want to reiterate we will be requesting additional funding for personnel and equipment,” Messina said….
Beekeepers, jugglers, moms bouncing babies on their laps, several clowns, organic farmers, flower growers, a guy on a unicycle, environmentalists, doctors (well, OK, phd in English kit from a mail order university) and concerned citizens, more than 40 in all, relayed their ‘concerns’ to the committee about herbicides. Frequent testifier Cory Hardin donned a makeshift hazmat suit to make her point. (Same people different hysteria. See them next time.)
Two testifiers, Springer Kaye and Aaron Stene, urged caution in abandoning without carefully considering necessary herbicides that help keep roadsides free of overgrowth that hinders public safety and help protect native species that would be overrun by invasive weeds. Kaye, project manager for the Hawaii Island Invasive Species Committee, was concerned especially about albizia invasions.
Bill 101: Text
HNN: Hawaii County moves closer to ban its use of toxic herbicides and pesticides
read … Herbicide ban advanced: Bill prohibits county use of weed killers in parks, roadsides