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Friday, December 6, 2019
December 6, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:12 PM :: 1308 Views

Forgotten Honouliuli: Jack Burns, Police Spy

Hawaii: 91 Hour Work Week to Live Comfortably

America's Health Rankings: Hawaii 3rd-Healthiest State

Hawaii Ranks Among Least Protection Against Elder Abuse

Honolulu Ethics Commission Presents Strategic Plan

Auditor--14 Years Later: Liquor Comm Still Working on 2005 Recommendations

Finalists for William S. Richardson School of Law dean announced

This Week on Mauna Kea: 436 Tickets, 2 Arrests

BoE Skeptical About Latest HSTA Pay Hike Scam

CB: … The Board of Education voted 7-2 for a plan to provide higher pay for special education teachers, Hawaiian language teachers and those who teach in remote, hard-to-staff schools.

But the approval came only after lengthy and pointed questioning of Hawaii Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and BOE chairwoman Catherine Payne about where the tens of millions of dollars in funding for the added pay would come from….

“I’m concerned if we don’t move forward with this today, it will send a message to the field that we are not behind this — and to the Legislature that we are not in full support of this as a board,” Payne said moments before the vote, when it was clear several members had lingering doubts about the integrity of the plan.

“I think we need to have some trust in our governor and the Legislature that they understand the critical nature of all this,” Payne said.

(Translation: This is just the HSTA’s annual ‘gimme mo money’ sales pitch to the Legislature.  Win or lose, they will have another one next session.)

The question now is whether Gov. David Ige will follow through in his public pledge to secure the $14.7 million to support the pay incentives for the remainder of the fiscal year — and whether the DOE can  successfully lobby the Legislature next session to secure another $30.4 million to continue the tiered pay in the 2021 fiscal year.

Some are worried that there would only be a 1 1/2 year guarantee of funding in the best case scenario.

“Where is this money coming from and can this money be guaranteed?” board member Dwight Takeno said during the discussion. “I just want to make sure once we commit, there will be continued funding and … we’re not taking from another program.”… 

GOP: Do you favor raising the salaries of teachers in special ed, Hawaiian immersion and hard to staff areas?

SA: School board approves plan to boost pay for special ed, Hawaiian immersion teachers

Reality: Report Ties Hawaii Youth Suicide Rate to HSTA Grab for HGEA Positions 

April 30, 2019: Contract Reopener: HSTA Gets Another $45.6M

read … Just Grifting the legislature (again)

Hawaii County Council Chair: Sweep Mauna Kea or Withdraw Police

SA: … Hawaii County police stationed on Mauna Kea have issued more than 7,600 traffic citations during the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope, and a frustrated Hawaii County Council Chairman Aaron Chung is now describing police operations on the mountain as an enormously expensive “speed trap.”…

… “Basically, they’re giving all of these tickets, and I don’t see any progress, so I don’t know what they’re up there for,” said Chung, who supports the TMT project. “We’ve spent more than $4 million. Let’s cut our losses already,”

If police aren’t going to take action to open Mauna Kea Access Road so that construction of the TMT can proceed, then the officers should leave the mountain, Chung said. “Either sweep or come down,” he said.

Police Chief Paul Ferreira declined to comment Wednesday on Chung’s remarks but said he has recently reduced the number of officers working on the mountain.

… Chung said in an interview he voted against the state-county agreement because “if we go open ended, that means they’re going to continue to stay up on the mountain. I’m in support of the project. I just don’t see why we have so many police up there.”

“I just think they should get the hell off of that mountain — everybody get off the mountain,” Chung said….

Related: This Week on Mauna Kea: 436 Tickets, 2 Arrests

read … Police operations on Mauna Kea are expensive ‘speed trap,’ county chairman says

Blocked by OHA, Kauai Finally Gets Juvenile Drug Treatment Center Built

KGI: … Teenagers struggling with substance abuse will soon be able to get the treatment they need without leaving the island.

About 100 people gathered at the Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center on Ma‘alo Road Thursday to bless the new facility and celebrate its grand opening.

“I can’t believe this day is finally here,” said Theresa Koki, coordinator for Life’s Choices Kauai, the county’s anti-drug community outreach program.

The rehabilitation center should be up and running by year’s end, two years after construction crews broke ground on what had been an undeveloped 5.8-acre plot of land near Hanamaulu.

Plans for an on-island substance-abuse-treatment facility have been in the works for well over a decade. Efforts to find a site and fund operations spanned three different administrations, beginning with the late former Mayor Bryan Baptiste, who first tried to get it built on a lot near Salt Pond Beach Park in 2005.

The plan faced pushback from the local community (Office of Hawaiian Affairs) and never came to fruition. But when Bernard Carvalho was elected mayor in 2008, he took the project on and kept moving forward….

(Really Obvious Question: How many kids died because OHA prevented them from getting drug treatment?)

Reality: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility 

read … Let the healing begin

New HART Analyses Show Millions Of Dollars In Added Rail Costs

CB: … The projected costs to complete Honolulu’s 20-mile rail transit system have grown by about $70 million in the past four months, based on the local rail agency’s ongoing analyses of risks to the project.

In August, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation risk manager Paul Johnson told agency board members there was an 80% probability that rail construction costs would not exceed $8.14 billion.

This week, a HART spokesman confirmed that the agency’s 80% probability cost estimate has risen, now up to $8.21 billion.

The updated figure was not shared Thursday with HART’s Project Oversight Committee members, however.

Instead, for his latest briefing on risks, Johnson switched to a less conservative cost estimate, based on 65% probability. That amount — $8.136 billion — happens to resemble the earlier, more conservative cost he shared back in August.

In a recent report, HART says it switched from reporting its 80% estimate down to 65% in order to follow the Federal Transit Administration standards.

That switch, however, has helped to mask HART’s own assessment that future risks are already driving up the projected costs. Johnson’s report flags more than 180 such risks facing rail…

read … New HART Analyses Show Millions Of Dollars In Added Rail Costs

Paeahu Solar contested case wraps up before PUC

MN: … “Why do you have to put it right next to people’s houses?” asked CarolAnn Barrows, director of the Pono Power Coalition, made up of more than 700 Maui Meadows, Kihei residents and their supporters.

They oppose the 15-megawatt solar and 60-megawatt-hour battery project on about 200 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch land above South Maui and near Maui Meadows.

“Maui doesn’t need now” all the “energy that this project will provide,” she added. Developers have said Paeahu Solar could generate electricity for around 7,300 homes.

“It should be in an industrial area,” she said. “I don’t even know if it has to be built now.”

Barrows said “we have lots of roofs here” and felt they would be a more suitable place to meet the state’s renewable energy mandates, although an attorney for Maui Electric questioned whether people’s rooftops would be enough to meet the state renewable energy mandates.

Barrows also expressed concerns about potential runoff, not having enough information about the project and possible environmental and health effects from the solar panels and construction dust and noise….

Paeahu Solar is being developed by Canadian-based Innergex Renewables….

read … Paeahu Solar contested case wraps up

Real estate couple sentenced for Welfare Fraud

WHT: … Hawaii County prosecutors filed the case on Sept. 17. A declaration by a state Department of Human Services investigator supporting the charges stated Jene Green, a local real estate agent who appeared on HGTV’s “Hawaii Life,” wrongfully obtained SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits totaling $27,241 between January 2016 and April of this year by not accurately reporting her true income as a real estate agent.

The investigator said Jene Green reported making just $3,000 to $4,000 between Jan. 1, 2015, and April of this year. However, subpoenaed earnings from her employer indicate she was paid $360,158.03 in commissions during that time….

read … Real estate couple sentenced for Welfare Fraud

Involuntary Mental Hospitalization Task Force Report Due Next Week

SoR: … The Involuntary Hospitalization Task Force is set to release its report in the next week, called for as a result of HB 1013 and SB 1494. It has spent the last few months reviewing the behavioral health system in Hawaii to make sure that the crisis system is managing MH-1 calls appropriately. Right now, one of the concerns is that hospitals are getting flooded perhaps somewhat unnecessarily.

Karianna Wilson talked with Eddie Mersereau, the head of the Behavioral Health Services Administration. He told her that 60% of current crisis transports are not currently admitted, but that it’s still a significant impact on limited ER beds in the state. He said the Task Force has been reviewing crisis models in Arizona, Georgia, and Florida for lessons learned to be incorporated in the state….

Background: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read … Force them into treatment

Hawaii one of worst states in distracted driving deaths

SA: … Hawaii experienced a 41% increase in distracted driving fatalities between 2015-2018.

In 2015, there were 17 fatalities caused by distracted driving, 18 in 2016, 28 in 2017 and 24 in 2019.

The nationwide average is 9.2 deaths per million people, but Hawaii’s rate was 16.9 deaths. …

LT: New Mexico Has the Most Distracted Driving Fatalities, Rhode Island the Fewest

read … Hawaii one of worst states in distracted driving deaths

Gas prices 4 cents higher than this time last year

KHON: … According to AAA Hawaii, gas prices across the islands are higher now than they were at this point last year. Today’s statewide average price is $3.67 a gallon, which is one cent higher than last week, one cent higher than a month ago and four cents higher than on this date a year ago….

(And enviros are working hard to drive them even higher.)

read … Gas prices 4 cents higher than this time last year

Big Island: Council OKs Ban On Roundup And Other Herbicides On County Land

CB: … Mayor Harry Kim hasn’t yet publicly announced whether he’ll sign the recently passed bill. ….

read … Big Island: Council OKs Ban On Roundup And Other Herbicides On County Land

Census error in Hawaii to result in $12M compact funding loss for Guam?

GPDN: … The Census Bureau's error adds 7,000 citizens from Freely Associated States to Hawaii's population and Interior wants funding to be redistributed to give Hawaii more money. That means money will be diverted away from Guam, the CNMI and American Samoa over the next three years ….

SA: Hawaii loses out on $17M in federal funds

KUAM: Guam could be penalized millions in COFA funds for Hawaii error

Background: Hawaii Owed $17M due to COFA Undercount?

read … 'Unacceptable': Census error in Hawaii to result in $12M compact funding loss for Guam

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