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Thursday, January 16, 2020
January 16, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:41 PM :: 1466 Views

DBEDT: Family of 4 Needs $80K for a frugal lifestyle—But only $67K on Big Island

Homeless deaths increase on O‘ahu Because They are not Being Forced into Shelters

Vote-by-Mail Reminder Coming to Your Mailbox

Make OHA Pay for Mauna Kea Protest Expenses

Time For The Taxpayers to PROTEST

Hawaii’s aging inter-island submarine fiber-optic cables

Silicon Valley Greenies On Verge of Taking over HECO?

CB: … A San Francisco-based equity investor agitating for management changes at Hawaiian Electric views the company as a “keystone species” that can help lead the way to a carbon-free economy.

Jeff Ubben, chief executive of ValueAct Capital, made the comment during an hour-long video interview with Rob Cox, global editor of Reuters Breakingviews….

ValueAct controls a mere 1.5% of the company’s stock but seems poised to effect an outsized influence on the company. Ubben noted that just three large institutional investors — BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group and State Street Global Advisors — control almost 25 percent of Hawaiian Electric shares.

At the very least, ValueAct seems to have an ideological ally in BlackRock, the $7 trillion asset manager which owns more than 9% of Hawaiian Electric shares. Earlier on Tuesday, in a letter to chief executives, BlackRock’s chief executive, Larry Fink, said the firm will view environmental and social sustainability as a “new standard for investing.”

Fink’s comments weren’t lost on Cox, who said to Ubben, “I assume this is grease on the wheels” to push the changes Ubben wants at Hawaiian Electric….

IM: 

YF: Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. To Announce Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2019 Earnings And 2020 EPS Guidance On February 13, 2020; American Savings Bank To Announce 2019 Earnings On January 30, 2020

Nov 19, 2019: Hawaii Political Insiders Panic over Suggestion that Hawaiian Electric Hire Outside CEO

2014: WaPo: Schatz Represents Hawaii's new White Ruling Class

read … Investor: Changes At Hawaiian Electric ‘Can Happen Fast’

Hawaiian protests move to state Capitol “uncertain about what they were trying to accomplish”

SA: … Months of frustration on the part of Native Hawaiian activists at Mauna Kea, Kahuku and Waimanalo coalesced in a passionate rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday for the opening day of the 2020 Legislature, but key lawmakers said they were unclear about the rally’s message.

Up to 1,000 people poured into the Capitol, but even a few of the activists were uncertain about what they were trying to accomplish.

“There is a diversity in political perspective in the Hawaiian community,” said Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu, 47, of Liliha.….

Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki both said they had not received any requests from the activists.

Saiki said neither he nor his staff were contacted by anyone associated with the rally.

“I haven’t received any communication from the organizers regarding what it is that they’re requesting from us,” Saiki told reporters after the opening session while the rally was still going on. “So I … really don’t know who is organizing the rally or what their objectives are.”…

A one-sentence bill introduced last session that never got a hearing — House Bill 1067 — would prohibit any development on conservation land on Mauna Kea from 6,000 feet above sea level to the summit…. 

HNN: Amid a temporary truce over TMT, Hawaiian activists turn their attention to politics

read … Hawaiian protests move to state Capitol on opening day of business

Tents, other items remain on Mauna Kea—Protesters Still Making Excuses

HTH: … while there are fewer people regularly attending the protest site, signs of the 5-month-long protest remain, with dismantled tents and abandoned property littering the sides of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road….

Protest leader Andre Perez said the protesters — who refer to themselves as kia‘i or protectors — have always planned to clean up the area, but those plans were sidetracked first by the need to clear their main tents off of the access road, and then by more than a week of foul weather.

“Right now, all the tents are piled up because of the wind,” Perez said. “But the intention is to remove them ourselves.”

The abandoned personal property likely will be removed this weekend, Perez said….

Perez said most of the abandoned property will be removed, but the main kupuna tents on the side of the access road will remain, as will the main support camp at Pu‘u Huluhulu….

the DLNR raised concerns in September about the impact the high number of visitors have had on the nearby Pu‘u Huluhulu, where four endangered ‘anunu vines were discovered to have been destroyed….

Jan 10, 2020: Telescope Protesters Leave Mountain of Trash on Mauna Kea

read … Tents, other items remain on mauna

Trying to Tax You Out of Your Car: Caldwell proposes study of traffic congestion pricing

SA: … Transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft practice “surge pricing” when demand for their serv­ices is highest. Hotels and airlines charge more during busy times. 

And Caldwell is using this as an excuse to … (drumroll please) … raise your taxes … (clash cymbals).

Now Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants state lawmakers to begin studying the idea of charging motorists a fee for driving on key roads during peak traffic hours, a concept known as congestion pricing that’s been in effect in London and other cities and was recently approved by New York state.

Caldwell told a joint hearing of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees Wednesday that he is proposing the Legislature adopt a resolution asking Hawaii’s four counties to come up with a report that would look at how the concept of congestion pricing might work in their jurisdictions.

a tracker (spying on you) would be placed in vehicles and record when they travel in and out of key, congested thoroughfares. Those motorists would then be charged what’s basically a peak-time toll charge. In London, for instance, motorists are assessed a daily fee if they drive within a “charging zone” between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the congestion pricing bill into law last April and New York City is anticipating imposing a charge as early as next year for those driving during peak hours into key areas of the most populated U.S. city….

read … Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell proposes study of traffic congestion pricing

Details needed to add early-learning hubs

SA Editorial: … In addition to the elementary-campus preschool classrooms, lawmakers propose to use taxpayer funds to grow the capacity of early-learning centers.

The state’s participation also would include creating new facilities on state properties, concentrating on filling the preschool-availability gaps, especially for rural communities on the neighbor islands.

This could mean allotting space in public facilities such as University of Hawaii campuses and other public sites statewide, Aloha Stadium and the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The idea, and it’s a good one, is to make early learning more accessible, and, through public subsidies, more affordable, too.

Lawmakers will introduce a bill to amend the legal framework of the Early Learning System, which itself was only established in 2018. The ELS would become the “Learning to Grow Agency,” its executive director appointed by the governor. That position’s salary would be set by law but could be “augmented by private sector funds,” according to a summary of the legislation released on Wednesday.

Exactly how this will work, however, is very unclear. The lines of authority already have been a source of contention between the Department of Education and the ELS; one can only hope that the 2020 debate on this issue doesn’t bog down in similar turf wars.

There’s also the question of how public funds would be distributed to private entities. When former Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed a voucher system, the prospect of taxpayer money potentially going toward faith-based preschools became a stumbling block.….

HNN: Could ‘pop-up preschools’ help solve Hawaii’s child care woes? Legislators think so.

July 12, 2019: Pre-K Turf War: DoE Whipped Down by Executive Office on Early Learning

read … Details needed to add early-learning hubs

Fewer criminal cases taken to court statewide

KHON: … Do the crime, do the time? Far from it.

In every county statewide, a suspect busted on the street is increasingly less likely to come before a judge and jury.

We found the number of criminal cases filed in every circuit statewide has plummeted. The rate of convictions is up, but public safety advocates and lawmakers say the trend sends the wrong message to victims and offenders.

Always Investigating analyzed a decade of criminal and court records and found the number of cases charged and taken to court has plummeted 21 percent in the past decade, by a range of 17 percent fewer criminal cases charged on Oahu to a decline of 41 percent fewer on Kauai. Crime rates, according to annual state- and FBI-compiled data, are down over the period but not by nearly as much; violent crime for instance is down about 8 percent over the decade….

Always Investigating asked all county prosecutors for a response. Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar told us: “Part of the decline is certainly attributable to an overall decline in crime in Hawaii over the past decade, as statistics maintained by the Attorney General indicate. In other areas, such as juvenile justice, the decline is the result of a nationwide trend to handle youthful offenders outside the criminal justice system. Changes to the law and court rulings also affect how and when prosecutors charge certain types of cases. There’s no simple answer.”

Many things have watered down what is taken to court as a criminal case over the years: drug decriminalization, classifying more crimes as misdemeanors instead, raising the dollar threshold for what constitutes felony theft, or appeals-court rulings on admissible evidence all bend the odds in an offender’s favor. But victims and lawmakers want to weed out if prosecutors take only the slam-dunk cases.

For those cases that do get filed with the Judiciary, conviction rates are up. Prosecutors are winning anywhere from 4- to 6-in-10 cases, where it used to be as low as a 19 percent conviction rate a decade ago….

Always Investigating looked at the Honolulu robbery cases from the summer and the recent crime spike on Oahu. Back in August, there were 75 robbery reports, with 11 arrests by police and 9 charges by prosecutors. In December, the robbery cases jumped up to 90 reports, but there were just 14 arrests and 14 charges….

“Robbery investigations are often difficult and challenging,” Yu added, “primarily due to the difficulty in identifying suspects, and arrests are made in 10 to 15 percent of robbery cases.”…

read … Fewer criminal cases taken to court statewide

Consumer Advocate Analysis: Hu Honua will increase greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs

IM: …the Consumer Advocate filed an extensive analysis with the Public Utilities Commission.  “Absent additional evidence, the addition of Hu Honua appears to have the potential to increase both GHG emissions as well as system costs.” ….

“Island Bioenergy, LLC ... an affiliate of Hu Honua, is the leaseholder of the Pahala and Paauhau locations, and has engaged CN Renewable Resources to harvest and deliver feedstock to the Project. It is unclear what entity is responsible for the cultivation and management of these three locations, particularly the Hamakua plantation, where neither Island Bioenergy nor CN Renewable Resources appear to be responsible for land and forestry management.”

“While Hu Honua believes it is in CN Renewable Resources’ best interest to source the biomass locally (ostensibly due to cost reasons), where CN Renewable Resources ultimately elects to source the biomass needed to fulfill the terms of the Fuel Sales and Purchase Agreement is at the sole discretion of CN Renewable Resources.”

If biogenic CO2 emissions are not treated as zero and are included in operational emissions, then the Hu Honua Project will be a significant emitter of GHG…

Some Empty Talk: Hawaii County Leading The Way On Climate Change

read … Consumer Advocate Analysis: Hu Honua will increase greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs

Honolulu residents outspend most of the country on food expenses

PBN: … According to spending data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Honolulu resident spends $5,899 a year on food eaten at home, and $5,806 annually on food while eating out. The BLS data also found that residents of Hawaii's capital city tend to spend $1,014 a year on public transportation, which is 24% above the national average, and $1,800 a year on gas, which is actually 15% lower than the national average.

The average income for Honolulu residents before taxes was $94,905 in 2017-2018 and average expenditures were $60,710, according to the BLS data. The average Honolulu resident also spend a little over $4,100 on healthcare, $7,202 on personal insurance and pensions and just over $23,000 on housing.

Seattlites spent the most on groceries (more than $6,000 a year in 2018) at 38.8% above the national average, residents of Washington DC spent the most money on eating out ($5,629 annually) and public transportation ($2,099) at 62.7% and 156% higher than the national average, and Los Angeles residents spent the most on gas ($2,706) at 28% more than average.

All local spending information came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey….

read … Report: Honolulu residents outspend most of the country on food expenses

Nick Rolovich contract calls for $425,004 penalty for early departure

SA: … A provision in football coach Nick Rolovich’s most recent contract could require him to pay the University of Hawaii a $425,004 buyout for his departure to Washington State and, in effect, help pay for his successor.

Rolovich, who accepted a widely reported $3 million annual salary and five-year contract Monday, is scheduled to be formally introduced at a Pullman, Wash., press conference this afternoon.

Under terms of Rolovich’s June 14, 2019 contract, he could terminate the agreement without penalty by giving UH written notice “at least 30 days in advance of termination.”

Without the advance notice, the redacted contract says “Coach shall pay the university as liquidated damages a lump sum amount of coach’s annual base salary within 90 days of the date on which termination occurs.”

According to athletic director David Matlin, Rolovich notified him Monday night that he was accepting the WSU job.

The Cougars officially announced Rolovich’s hiring Tuesday upon his arrival in Pullman, Wash., where he met with his new players.

In 2019 Rolovich was due to receive $600,004, of which $425,004 was listed as base salary and $175,000 was a one-time, lump sum signing and retention bonus.

SA: Rolovich Takes Top Three Staffers With Him?

read … Nick Rolovich’s contract calls for $425,004 buyout for early departure

New General Manager for HNN Named

B&C: …Gray Television said that it promoted Katie Pickman to general manager of its TV stations in Hawaii with the retirement of broadcast veteran Rick Blangiardi.

Pickman had been director of sales at Gray’s KHNL, an NBC affiliate, and KGMB, a CBS affiliate since 2017 and has lived in the state since 2014. She has been in the media business for 20 years and serves on the board of Make-A-Wish Hawaii.

The promotion is effective immediately….

read … Gray Names Pickman GM of Hawaii Stations

Lawsuit: Organic Store Spread Rat Lungworm to Customers

CB: … The young Big Island family is the third party since February 2019 to sue a restaurant over uncleaned produce that has caused the potentially fatal disease….

Chaunda Rodrigues, 31, took two of her favorite avocado sandwiches home for a New Year’s Eve lunch from Island Naturals Market. According to the lawsuit, her husband Shea ate one sandwich, and she fed her 13-month-old son some avocado from hers.

But halfway through the sandwich, the lawsuit says, she felt part of the slug lodged in her teeth.

She froze the entire plate, including sandwich and slug, and took it to the University of Hawaii for testing. The laboratory found that the slug tested positive for the rat lungworm parasite. All three Rodrigueses sought medical attention at various clinics, according to the suit.

Hilo Medical Center’s emergency department prescribed her albendazole, an anti-worm medication, on New Year’s Day….

BIVN: After Rat Lungworm Conference, HMC Updates Treatment Protocol

read … Lawsuit: Slug Found In Sandwich Exposed Family To Rat Lungworm Disease

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