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Saturday, January 25, 2020
January 25, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:07 PM :: 1050 Views

State of the State: Right diagnosis, wrong prescription

HB2593: Fossil Fuel Cars to be Banned by 2030

Sen Riviere Introduces Bills to Protect Communities from Wind Farms

Eight Bills Behind 'Joint Economic Package'

Maui Mayor: Environmental Assessment Rules Cause Shortage of Affordable Housing 

HPR: …Maui Mayor Mike Victorino came out in support Friday of Trump’s plan to loosen federal environmental rules on development.

(IQ Test:  Trump’s name is being used in this article to manipulate you. T/F) 

Victorino made the remarks in Washington where he was attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual winter meeting. He told HPR in a phone interview that mayors met with the president on Friday to discuss his proposal.

Earlier this month, Trump announced he was seeking to ease restrictions in place under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“The United States will not be able to compete and prosper in the 21st Century if we continue to allow a broken and outdated bureaucratic system hold us back from building what we need,” Trump said at a Jan. 9 press conference, flanked by cabinet secretaries and the leaders of several industry groups.

Specifically, the president wants to speed up the required assessments of a proposed project’s impact on the environment, which Trump said can currently take seven years or more. He wants that cut down to two or three years.

After meeting with Trump, Victorino expressed support for the idea.

“Reducing the amount of red tape I think it's going to help us really start to build without so much time constraint,” the first-term mayor said…. 

CB: Maui Mayor Wants Federal Help With Island Sustainability

As Explained: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read … Maui Mayor Supports Rollback Of Environmental Rules, Cites Housing Shortage

Violent tragedy at Diamond Head exposed major gaps in Hawaii’s mental health system, state officials say

HNN: … After news of the killings during Sunday’s tragedy at Diamond Head broke, and reports that the alleged murderer was mentally ill began to surface, the state Department of Health looked into whether they’d ever had contact with him.

“That’s one of the first things we checked into. As far as we can tell, he had never been referred to us,” said Edward Mersereau, Deputy Director, Behavioral Health Administration.

Currently, Hawaii has no stabilization beds for crisis patients showing symptoms not severe enough for the emergency room, but too severe for existing outpatient facilities like the state's clubhouse program.

“One of the problems we have now is even if someone is involuntarily committed, we don’t have the services in place for individuals to stabilize them. If they are in crisis, if they have substance problems, there is simply no good place for them to go now,” said Bruce Anderson, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health.

The health department wants to create 200 stabilization beds across the state. It says Wahiawa General and Maluhia Hospital have empty beds, and there’s a pilot program in Leahi Hospital with five patients….

Last year, lawmakers denied $10 million in funding for Wahiawa General to create 40 stabilization beds, because they wanted the project to go out for bid. Now, the health department hopes to have that award finalized by the end of the month….

There are bills being considered at the legislature to allow the use of mental health and substance abuse monies to re-purpose hospital beds for patients with mental illness….

read … Violent tragedy at Diamond Head exposed major gaps in Hawaii’s mental health system, state officials say

Enabling deteriorating behavior hurts public

SA: … we have had a noticeable increase in mentally ill people floating around lately. What’s being done to protect our keiki and kupuna from all these folks wandering around making violent gestures and talking to imaginary people? More than 10 times now, I have had to protect folks from dangerous people wandering around, and it’s getting worse.

When folks exhibit offensive loony behavior repeatedly (as Jerry Hanel did to me and others), they need to be regulated, not accommodated. When we “let it go,” we enable them, and other people wind up getting hurt.

Enablement is not compassion — it’s a cheesy, Band-aid remedy, under which a dangerous infection is festering….

read … Wisdom

Road-usage fee would raise prices for us all

SA: … The government is considering switching to a road usage tax as it claims to need more money to fix our crumbling roads.

First: This is a tax increase, plain and simple. It will hurt the people who live out of the city and have to commute to work. These are the people who can least afford an increase in the cost of living.

Second: Who puts the most mileage on their vehicles? Not the commuter but the trucks and vans that deliver all of our goods and services to stores. Think about all of the construction trucks, cement trucks and flat beds to deliver equipment to the site. This alone will raise the cost of living for us all as they’ll pass this on to the consumer.

Third: Most electric cars have to get their power from our electrical grid, i.e., Hawaiian Electric — power largely made by burning fossil fuel, which means we aren’t getting away from that, if ever….

read … Wisdom

Turtle Traffic: DoT Wants to Solve Problem the Expensive Way (of course)

SA: … The question is whether to shift it over a short distance of at least 40 feet or so or to move it much farther, at about 1,000 feet or so inland, along a curved path that would make it resilient to coastal erosion in the long run. The shorter shift would cost an estimated $6 million to $10 million, he said, and the larger realignment, an estimated $35 million to $40 million.

Sniffen, who recently presented these two options to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, prefers the latter….

read … No Surprise

SB3167: Bureaucratic Turf Fight over Aloha $tadium Project

SA: … Jurisdiction for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District project would be transferred from the Hawaii Community Development Authority to the Aloha Stadium Authority under a bill in the state Legislature.

Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi, Pearl Harbor), one of the bill’s authors, said the intent of Senate Bill 3167 is to keep the $350 million NASED project on schedule and on budget for a projected fall 2023 opening.

“Last year’s proposal had the Stadium Authority utilizing the power of HCDA to move the stadium forward,” Wakai said. “But we felt why do the second step? Why not empower the stadium with all of HCDA’s powers?”….

(Better idea: Just cancel the project.) 

read … Aloha Stadium bill aims to keep project on track

Hawaii Medicaid Patients May Have Fewer Insurance Choices

CB: …In an unprecedented move, the Hawaii Department of Human Services is downsizing the number of Medicaid insurance company contracts it will offer.

The consolidation move is intended to relieve the burden of billing processes for many insurance plans, according to the department. But it will also limit the number of insurance plan choices Medicaid patients will have, especially on neighbor islands.

Documents from the State Procurement Office show DHS plans to enter negotiations with four insurance companies for contracts totaling $17 billion that span from this year to 2029.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association and United HealthCare Insurance Company appear to be the big winners, having received the largest contracts from DHS to continue business statewide. Contracts have yet to be finalized and depend on negotiations.

Two other providers were selected to offer Medicaid insurance plans for Oahu residents only: AlohaCare and Ohana Health Plan, also known as WellCare Health Insurance of Arizona….

HPR: Kaiser Permanente is noticeably missing from the list. While it was not awarded a new contract, it has joined as a subcontractor with AlohaCare.

read … Hawaii Medicaid Patients May Have Fewer Insurance Choices

Clerk: King Lied About Spy Cameras in Council Chambers

MN: … Maui County Clerk Josiah Nishita said Friday that he recommended that all Maui County Council members be informed about the installation of covert security cameras in Council Chambers and that his office was not the driver of the controversial project.

“I agree (the cameras) shouldn’t be public information, but all the members should know and staff on the eighth floor,” Nishita told council members after hearing comments about the project during an informal Council Chair’s Meeting on Friday afternoon in Council Chambers.

This was the first time Nishita has spoken publicly about the $8,000 project to install covert security cameras in Council Chambers with the intent to monitor an active shooter or hostage situation. The cameras were kept secret from other council members and the public by then-council Chairwoman Kelly King.

The four video recording cameras with no audio capabilities were installed briefly in Council Chambers late last year before being disconnected days later.

King authorized the purchase order and was the sole member with prior knowledge of the camera project. She has said that she was following recommendations from the Office of the County Clerk and the Office of Corporation Counsel’s Risk Management Division to assist law enforcement and for security.

Nishita said Friday that he did advise King to inform other council members about the cameras. This contradicts King’s comments in a Jan. 11 Maui News report, in which she said that Nishita told her not to inform other council members…

MN: Five apply for vacant clerk positions so far

read … Clerk: He urged revealing cameras to council members

Number of Oahu vacation rental units is shrinking

SA: … Enforcement began in August, five months ago.

The data gathered over that period show the overall vacation rental supply on Oahu dropped to 237,306 unit nights in December, down about 13.7% from the 274,886 unit nights available in August. Those numbers are based largely on properties listed on electronic booking platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway and TripAdvisor and do not determine or differentiate between units that are permitted or unpermitted.

The year-over-year comparison also shows a deep drop. There were 261,059 unit nights available in December 2018, which means there was a 9.1% drop through last month.

Kloninger said the drop is more dramatic when compared with the double-digit growth in available units in Waikiki alone, where there are areas where short-term residential vacation rentals are allowed. There also was double-digit growth in Maui and Kauai counties.

In Waikiki there were 120,086 available units in December, up 14.4% from 104,997 units in December 2018. In Maui County there were 293,100 available units in December, a 27.6% increase from the 229,736 available units 12 months prior. In Kauai County there were 121,998 available units, up 28.6% from the 94,861 units available at the same time the previous year.

“Some of the Oahu demand that is no longer being accommodated outside of Waikiki is moving into Waikiki, which is what the administration wanted and the City Council voted for,” Kloninger said….

read … Number of Oahu vacation rental units is shrinking

Prisons need oversight

SA: … The Hawaii Correctional System Oversight Commission, which met for the first time last week, holds potential to spur positive changes. Among its powers: conducting independent investigations and making unannounced inspections in the state’s overcrowded and dilapidated corrections facilities.

As the panel moves forward — with a yet-to-be-hired oversight coordinator — its five commissioners, all of whom have worked or are employed in the state’s criminal justice system, must prioritize public transparency and accountability. In recent years, DPS has been in short supply on both scores.

Among recent examples: In the aftermath of an internal investigation into a March riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center, which caused more than $5 million in damage to the jail, Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda offered state lawmakers a private look at his full account of the uprising, but declined to release his final report to the public.

Also, the legislation that last year created the commission, Act 179, puts in place requirements to speed the bail process, such as completion of risk assessments within three days of being incarcerated. That’s an improvement as previously there was no time limit….

MCCC escapee to spend 46 months in federal prison

Convicted killer in gruesome machete attack at Maui mall given 20-year sentence 

Kaiwiki shooting suspect asks to be freed without bail

read … Prisons need oversight

OJ Simpson Innocence Project To Host Prosecutor Candidate Debate

CB: … The Hawaii Innocence Project is hosting a debate for Honolulu prosecutor candidates on Tuesday at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Five attorneys vying for the prosecutor seat are expected to participate.

They are: former deputy prosecutor Megan Kau, public defender Jacquelyn Esser, former judge and U.S. Attorney Steve Alm, former deputy prosecutor RJ Brown and private criminal defense attorney Tae Kim.

Ken Lawson, the co-director of the Innocence Project, and Helen Yu, an assistant professor and the graduate chair of the public administration program, will moderate (shape) the debate….

Flashback: UH: Ken Lawson Admits his “Innocence Project” Brought Alleged Pimp to Hawaii

read … Hawaii Innocence Project To Host Prosecutor Candidate Debate

SB2601 -- Bill would allow counties to charge developers for law enforcement costs

HTH: … A bill introduced in the state Legislature would give counties the authority to charge a developer for up to half of law enforcement costs related to a project.

Flashback: Make OHA Pay for Mauna Kea Protest Expenses

Senate Bill 2601, introduced by Sen. Gil Riviere, an Oahu Democrat passed its first reading Tuesday and was referred Friday to the Public Safety and Ways and Means committees, neither of which immediately scheduled hearings. Co-sponsors of the legislation are Sens. Stanley Chang, Kurt Fevella, Les Ihara and Maile Shimabukuro, all Oahu Democrats….

The bill refers to the Thirty Meter Telescope project on Maunakea, quoting a Honolulu Star-Advertiser story which stated that between July and October 2019, the state and counties had spent at least $8.3 million in law enforcement costs related to protests that kept construction vehicles, workers and material from scaling the mountain.

It also mentions “law enforcement services … being used for the construction of the Na Pua Makani wind turbine project in Kahuku, Oahu.”

That project, like TMT, has garnered protests and arrests.

The measure, if passed into law, would allow counties to collect “up to 50% of costs associated with providing law enforcement services for the construction of a project from the developer of the project; provided that law enforcement services were provided by the county in the furtherance of ensuring public safety and are provided for more than five days.”

Counties would be able to invoice the project’s developer “after the fifth day of providing law enforcement services.”…

(Greenmail Opportunity: Threaten to protest a developer unless they pay you not to.)

County Council Chairman Aaron Chung said he doesn’t think the legislation will become law.

“Inasmuch as none of our senators have signed off (as co-sponsors) on it, and it relates to our island, I doubt it’s going to gain any traction,” Chung said….

Better Idea: Kahuku and Waimanalo Protests show why Hawaii Needs Municipal Government

read … Bill would allow counties to charge developers for law enforcement costs

Will State Inspect Cargo Containers for Contraband?

HPR: … During the 2019 legislative session, Kaneohe Rep. Scott Matayoshi introduced a resolution that would have called on several government entities to inspect shipping containers originating from outside the state.

“My main concern is that illegal fireworks are the literal tip of the iceberg. They were the visible portion of all of the illegal goods coming in,” Matayoshi said. “I had noticed, and other people had noticed, an uptick in illegal fireworks, which I took to mean that the iceberg was getting bigger and bigger -- not just with fireworks, but with drugs, with everything else being smuggled into our islands.

"To me, the harbors were a natural choke point.”

The only state agency that currently inspects domestic cargo shipments is the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, but it only checks for invasive species and other organic materials. The department explained that it is not equipped to handle explosives such as illegal fireworks.

Other agencies -- the state Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety -- named in Matayoshi’s bill said it would not be feasible to conduct inspections since thousands of shipping containers come into Hawaii. The 2011 task force report estimated about 200,000 containers enter the state each year.

Matayoshi said after holding several meetings and onsite visits at the harbors, he doesn’t disagree with the agencies’ arguments for being unable to do more inspections. However, he thinks the problem still needs to be addressed.

He plans to introduce a new measure that would check legal fireworks as they are offloaded at the docks because he’s heard that the illegal ones are smuggled in with legal fireworks.

He noted that his new proposal would not address his concern about drugs and other items that may be smuggled into state.

“We have the opportunity to scan just about every good coming in, if we could do it without significantly impacting the shipping containers and the goods coming into Hawaii to consumers,” he said. “If there is anyone out there who knows of technology that might be available that would serve the purpose of helping to better scan the shipping containers coming into Hawaii, then I’m all ears.”

read … Inspection

SB2234: DUI at 0.05%

HNN: … To crack down on those who drive drunk, other lawmakers are proposing a “zero-tolerance law."

Right now, adults can be charged with drunk driving when the alcohol in their blood is 0.08% or higher.

Zero tolerance means any amount of alcohol is illegal. Senate Transportation Committee Chair Lorraine Inouye said she introduced SB2510, but that doesn’t mean she supports it.

“I did introduce it for the purpose of hearing the measure,” Inouye said. “I have an open mind.”

Inouye also introduced a measure that would lower the legal limit to 0.05%.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn’t have a position on zero tolerance yet. However, the founder of Hawaii’s chapter said they would support lowering the limit.

“I think that the 0.05 is enough of a decrease from where we are now, 0.08. That will get people’s attention,” said Carol McNamee. “This is something that many countries have, the 0.05, across the world. So, we’re kind of behind. So, this is nothing extreme or extraordinary. It’s really the average, the mode for most of the world.” …

read … After 106 traffic deaths last year, lawmakers push for drastic changes to roadway laws

State senators propose legalized gambling (again)

HTH: … A pair of state Senate bills hope to legalize gambling in Hawaii in order to provide funding for necessary programs statewide.

Senate Bill 850 — which was carried over from the 2019 legislative session — and Senate Bill 2669 were both proposed by Maui Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran and co-sponsored by Kona Sen. Dru Kanuha.

The two bills are functionally identical and would establish a Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation to oversee a legal gambling industry throughout the state….

read … State senators propose legalized gambling

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