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Friday, March 06, 2020
March 6, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:46 PM :: 1385 Views

Protesters Return to Mauna Kea

Senate passes bill to establish a carbon tax on fossil fuels

Legislature launches YouTube live streams of hearings and floor sessions

Senate passes housing and education bills from joint legislative package

Obesity: Honolulu 2nd Slimmest City in USA

Mag Ban and Ammo Restrictions Pass Senate

The green case for Jones Act reform

Senate Passes Ban On Side Gigs For Mayors And Governor

CB: … House Bill 361 would ban outside employment by county mayors and the governor, and that would affect candidates running for office this year and going forward. House Speaker Scott Saiki introduced the measure, but it stalled last year.

The Senate voted nearly unanimously to pass HB 361; Sens. Russell Ruderman, Donovan Dela Cruz and Lorraine Inouye voted with reservations. The bill now heads back to the House for consideration….

If it becomes law, victors in the mayoral and gubernatorial races would need to give up their side jobs in 2022….

Caldwell reported $155,638 in earnings as a bank director and from stock options with Territorial Savings, according to his financial disclosure filed earlier this year.

But it’s Green who may lose even more. Green earns anywhere between $275,000 and $450,000 from three jobs outside he holds, according to his most recently filed financial disclosures.

Green earned between $150,000 and $250,000 as medical director of the Hawaii Independent Physicians Association; between $100,000 and $150,000 as an emergency room physician with Watkins Medical Group; and between $25,000 and $50,000 doing consulting work for Green Health International LLC….

Keith Amemiya, a vice president at Island Holdings, would need to give up that job by 2022 if elected….

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine would also need to give up consulting work that made her less than $10,000 in 2019, according to her financial disclosures….

Choon James, a real estate broker, said she would give up her business, which she’s had for 30 years, if she was elected mayor….

read … Senate Passes Ban On Side Gigs For Mayors And Governor

SB3103: Return of the PLDC

SA Editorial: … a strategy being pushed by a coalition of state lawmakers that aims to speed the pace of new construction and renovation by foregoing safeguards in the law. Under Senate Bill 3103, a new state agency would be tasked with development, planning and construction of capital improvement projects at public schools.

Unlike the DOE, which now shoulders that responsibility, the School Facilities Agency would be exempt from all county ordinances other than building codes, as well as from state laws on historic preservation, environmental protection, budgeting, civil service and parts of the procurement code and the transparency-focused Sunshine Law. That is alarming, especially without careful vetting.

The governor would appoint the agency’s executive director and five members of an advisory School Facilities Board, which would also include the schools superintendent and a Board of Education (BOE) representative.

Yes, lawmakers should find ways to minimize bureaucratic delay in modernizing facilities and property redevelopment. But projects should also meet muster with regulations tailored to protect the public’s interest, health and safety, and natural and cultural resources.

Backed by Gov. David Ige and others, SB 3103 has echoes of government overreach that surfaced in 2011 when lawmakers created the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC).

Tasked to work with the private sector on development projects on underused state land, projects were to be overseen by a board that could make development deals free from many state and county environmental and zoning controls. But in 2013, before developing a single project, PLDC’s opponents successfully prodded repeal….

read … School Facilities Agency a bad idea

Idiot Alert: Senator’s Response to Corona Virus Recession?  Tax Airlines so even fewer will come

SA: … A Hawaii state senator wants to improve airport screening for the new coronavirus and pay for it with increased airport landing fees if necessary.

Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Airport-Salt Lake) said he doesn’t think “taxpayers should pay to shore up the state’s screening process.”

“Money is going to be hard to come by because of the coronavirus. But more fundamental, those potentially bringing the coronavirus here should pay for it — not local people,” said Wakai, who chairs the Senate’s Energy, Economic Development and Tourism committee. …

Wakai’s proposal comes as airlines are struggling with a sharp drop in business. The International Air Transport Association estimated global revenue losses for airlines could reach anywhere from $68 billion to $113 billion.

Wakai asked the state Department of Transportation earlier this week to consider temporarily raising airport landing fees to cover additional costs. But he said Thursday that he was told that doesn’t have to happen yet “as DOT is sitting on an over $4 million surplus from prior collections.”

“I said, ‘Don’t return the surplus — use it for coronavirus screenings,’” Wakai said. “If there isn’t a surplus later, I think we should contemplate raising landing fees.”…

Wakai said tourism and airline officials are likely to argue temporarily raising landing fees would deter travelers from coming to Hawaii since it makes the cost of a trip here more expensive….

“For the short term, having things get canceled is actually good for us, we’ll have less problems in the future. Eventually, tourism will rebound back. Health is more important than the short-term benefits of tourism,” he said….

read … Hawaii senator wants airlines to offset coronavirus screening costs

Coronavirus Is Causing A New Set Of Problems For Honolulu Rail

CB: … The firm building rail’s driverless trains and operating system is warning that it faces delays in that work and expects “serious problems” in its supply chain due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hitachi Rail has also activated what it calls its “pandemic plan” to protect its customers, employees and suppliers, according to a Feb. 27 memo sent to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Hitachi Rail, formerly known as Ansaldo, is based in Italy — the nation hardest hit in Europe thus far by the virus. Its supply chain, meanwhile, involves China, where the COVID-19 disease cases first originated and where most virus-related deaths have occurred.

That chain is, in part, “suffering” from a blockade imposed by the Chinese government, the memo stated….

However, at this point Hitachi Rail is sending a clear message to HART: It believes it should be exempt from any liability because it considers the virus outbreak to be a “force majeure” event — something massive that is beyond its control.

Thus, Hitachi warned HART, it shouldn’t have to pay the subsequent penalties and damages stemming from any coronavirus delays. The firm cited language in its contract with the city that covers such situations.

HART, meanwhile, has already signaled that it would hold Hitachi liable.

“HART respectfully does not agree with the HRH assessment,” the local agency said in a statement Thursday. “HART will respond to HRH and provide its position in the next few days.”

HART and the city already agreed to pay Hitachi an additional $160 million to make up for more than five years of construction delays that hampered the firm’s progress on rail….

read … Coronavirus Is Causing A New Set Of Problems For Honolulu Rail

Corona Virus Becomes Excuse to Grab $120M Bag of Money

SA: … An existing fiscal stability fund contains about $120.6 million — that’s out of a nearly $3 billion total operating budget. But it can only be used when certain, clearly defined economic or revenue conditions are triggered, or if the governor or president declares a state of emergency due to a natural disaster.

The triggers listed in the ordinance: a 2% increase in unemployment over three fiscal quarters, a 2% drop in total net taxable real property from the preceding year, a 2% decline in general fund and highway fund revenues from the previous year, a 5% decline in hotel room tax revenues from the preceding year or an increase of 5% (of the previous year’s revenues) in nondiscretionary expenditures.

Gary Kurokawa, Caldwell’s chief of staff, said the conditions take at least months to trigger and that the state of emergency declarations clause refers to earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding or other natural disasters.

It does not, however, specifically allow the money to be used to battle a fast-spreading virus.

Bill 35, co-introduced by Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson and Budget Chairman Joey Manahan, adds language allowing the fund to be tapped if the governor or president declares a state of emergency due to “an occurrence, or imminent threat thereof, which results or may likely result in substantial injury or harm to the population in the City and County of Honolulu, or substantial damage to or loss of property of residents of the City and County of Honolulu.”

read … Money

Kauai Still Trying to Decide if Alleged Meth Kingpin Can be Removed from Council

KGI: … The Kaua‘i County Charter does not give the council itself removal power. It says councilmembers forfeit their office if they move out of the county or if they are convicted of a felony.

In some ways, the Kaua‘i Charter presents a tougher standard than either the state or federal governments. No vote of the council is required for removal on conviction of a felony. A councilmember is automatically removed on felony conviction. Any felony conviction.

But before conviction? The suggestion that a sitting government officials should be removed before conviction is problematic. The presumption of innocence and the right to defend oneself at trial are fundamental to our form of government.

The council has the authority to “judge the qualifications of its members,” but that charter language is vague about what it can do about a councilman whose qualifications are determined inadequate. The council certainly has the authority to strip a member of any leadership position and committee assignments, but it does not appear to have the power to remove councilmembers from the seats to which the voters have elected them.

The language of the charter could certainly be changed, but any charter amendment, whether initiated by petition, by the County Council or by the Charter Review Commission, but still would need approval by the voters in the November General Election — the same election that will seat a new County Council….

(Idea: Tell Kauai you saw Arthur Brun conspiring to bring back the Superferry.)

read … Innocent until proven guilty

Poll: Public Fooled by Global Warming Hysteria, Business Leaders Not so Much

HB: … The BOSS Survey interviewed 433 business representatives statewide; the 808 Poll reached 473 adult members of the general public statewide  In both surveys, people were asked which of these descriptions…

read … Hawai‘i’s People Describe the Climate Changes They Are Seeing

Hysteria: Rampaging Horde of Punatics Blocks Cell Phone Tower

HTH: … Andrew Tomlinson, site acquisition specialist for AT&T, said the site was chosen specifically because it would help fill a network gap and provide more reliable service for emergency responders, as per a federal program.

But that site was located within only a few hundred feet of a nearby residential community, and less than a quarter mile away from Kamehameha Schools Hawaii.

Although Tomlinson said there is no scientific consensus correlating cellphone towers and greater risks of cancer — he said the ground-level radiation around the base of a tower is “thousands of times” less than the maximum allowable by the Federal Communications Commission — residents vehemently protested against the project.

“Some people probably bought these homes because there weren’t any towers,” said one testifier, who added that the towers could devastate local farming by affecting bee populations.

Prescott Ellwood, a resident of the Kurtistown community, called the issue “a landmark case” and announced his intention to take the case as far up the courts as necessary to prevent the project. He also warned that the tower site is directly in the path of stormwater drainage for the community, and would increase the likelihood of floods.

Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder also attended to give testimony, saying he only learned of the project two to three weeks ago and urged AT&T to take an exhaustive look at all other possible sites.

“We need to listen to the public, and I think today the public is speaking very clearly,” Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said.

Several others in attendance said students and faculty at Kamehameha Schools were unaware of and concerned about the project; still others cast aspersions on the integrity of the FCC and the various health organizations that have denied any conclusive correlation between cell towers and cancer.

Anger and frustration mounted as the meeting went on. Chair Thomas Raffipiy repeatedly called for order in the conference room as attendees interrupted Tomlinson’s remarks.

The furor only escalated further when Deputy Corporation Counsel Malia Hall, in response to shouted remarks from several attendees, retorted, “We’re not here for you,” although she clarified seconds later with the follow-up, “We’re not here just for you.”

So incensed were the opponents that one of them briefly collapsed. Ellwood, who told the Tribune-Herald Tuesday that he has a heart condition, appeared to faint after the meeting’s loudest exchanges. While he was revived after a short rest,

read … Punatics

Judge: Honolulu City Council Violated Open Meetings Law

CB: … The Honolulu City Council violated the Hawaii Sunshine Law when members discussed policing on Mauna Kea at a meeting last summer without providing six days of public notice, Circuit Judge Lisa Cataldo ruled on Wednesday.

The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest filed suit in October after Oahu resident Natalie Iwasa complained about the council’s action in a Civil Beat Community Voice column.

A resolution requesting that the city administration produce a report on the Honolulu Police Department’s involvement with Mauna Kea protesters did not appear on the July 19 agenda for the Public Safety and Welfare Committee. Instead, council members voted to add it to the agenda on July 25, the day of the meeting….

read … Judge: Honolulu City Council Violated Open Meetings Law

Another One: Tour Helicopter Crashes On Big Island

HNN: … Authorities are investigating after a tour helicopter made a hard landing in Puna on Thursday and rolled over.

The pilot and five passengers onboard were taken to the hospital.

Their condition was not immediately available, but they did not appear to be badly injured.

The incident happened about 11:30 a.m. in a wooded area off Highway 130 and Alalii Road.

The FAA identified the helicopter as Eurocopter EC130 and said it reportedly had engine problems before the hard landing.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, which owns the chopper, said everyone on board was able to get out of the aircraft safely….

read … Tour Helicopter Crashes On Big Island

Family says video proves police negligence in 2016 double fatal chase on Maui

HNN: … A family says newly-obtained body camera video proves a police chase on Maui that led to two deaths was unnecessarily dangerous….

Egbert's family and their lawyers say the officers involved in the chase have a history of reckless chases and weren't held accountable for this one.

Police were called to a home on East Waiko Road in Waikapu on October 29, 2016 to check on a man sleeping in his car that was partially parked in someone else’s driveway….

Officers awoke the man, who then reversed, hit a police car and drove off.

The chase begins on 19 East Waiko Road with them making a left onto Honoapiilani Highway heading toward Maalaea and left again on Kuihelani Highway back toward Waiko Road on the four-lane divided highway toward Kahului.

It lasts for three minutes and 49 seconds.

They covered 4.9 miles.

A police expert said the suspect was going 93 miles an hour when he hit the Scion driven by 33-year-old Melissa Egbert.

Egbert was an English teacher at the University of Hawaii Maui College….

Officers later discovered the suspect they were chasing was 29-year-old Joshua Apo who had priors for drugs and resisting arrest….

MPD's General Orders for vehicle pursuits states, "no assignment shall be of such importance and no task shall be expedited with such emphasis that the principles of safety become secondary."

The family believes the department exaggerated the danger to officers to justify an improper chase.

In the police reports, the officers claimed that Apo accelerated toward an officer “who had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit."

However, radio transcripts reveal a dispatcher asking an officer, “Did he try and hit one of you guys?”

The officer answered, "Negative he reversed into patrol’s vehicle, unattended."…

read … Family says video proves police negligence in 2016 double fatal chase on Maui

Security? Homeless Criminals Continue to Steal Cars from Wahiawa Open Air Chop Shop

KHON: … A week ago dozens of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies conducted a sweep of the area off of Kamehameha Highway between Kamanui Road and Whitmore Avenue.

A large plot of land several hundred yards away from the highway was arranged like a mini community complete with living quarters inside Matson-style containers, generators, washer-dryers and a shower.

Thursday the smell of burnt rubber hung in the air after a fire, police said they believe was intentionally set, ripped through the area Sunday.

Melted glass and plastics, dozens of burnt vehicles, piles of black ash and mounds of black rubbish remain.

In a statement, Ken Nakamoto the Agribusiness Development Corporation Project manager, said:

“The fire was isolated to 1-2 acres…We suspect it was an arsonist who entered the property on foot.”

“The fire setting its definitely related to this sweep and enforcement and the perception of these vehicles maybe as evidence or something of that nature,” Representative Amy Perusso said.

Aunty Tino, who lives nearby said it isn’t the first time.

“There’s been a lot of fires. It wasn’t just that one. Over a year, a couple months in regards to fires they were started in that area. Of course it’s scary,” Tino said.

Nakamoto said it will cost roughly $10,000 to clean up the mess caused by the fire.

To make things worse Nakamoto said they:

“Received reports that individuals are entering on foot through remote areas of the 230 acre parcel. They are mainly looking for anything of value that they can salvage”.

“It’s also my understanding that people are continuing to try to go back onto the property to try to get back cars that may still be running,” Perruso explained.

They’re avoiding the guarded dirt roads, pulling vehicles out over the berms along Kamehameha Highway….

Out of 20 vehicles they’ve recovered only one car and one moped were reported stolen so far, according to police….

MN: Bumfight at Lahaina Alano Club Leaves One Slashed, One in Jail

read … They are Laughing at the Police

Soft on Crime Policy Kills Killer 5 years after Killing

AP: … A former Hawaii resident’s skull and torso washed up on the shores of the Illinois River in 2017. Those remains were recently identified as belonging to a man who was convicted of a 2002 fatal beating another man at Keehi Boat Harbor, according to the Honolulu Police Department.

The body of John H. Frisch, 56, was identified using DNA as well as dental records from Hawaii.

According to Peoria County officials, Frisch had been dismembered and the cause of death was ruled as blunt force head trauma….

(This killer would be alive today if he had been properly sentenced to a nice safe jail.  He was killed by Hawaii’s soft-on-crime judiciary.)

RDN: Frisch also had a lengthy number of arrests in the Peoria area as well

read … Soft on Crime

DoH Fail: Mentally Ill 14-year old disappears

HNN: … The boy, who suffers from severe mental illnesses, walked away from a Waipahu care home Wednesday.

“He doesn’t have any money. We’re not even sure if he has his shoes. We don’t know where he is," said his mother, Michelle Shores, of Kaneohe.

“He’s at risk for self-harm, he self-harms on a regular basis, he’s aggressive when he feels under stress."

Attorney Eric Seitz said that for the last two years Brian was being treated on the mainland, most recently at an intensive psychiatric care facility in Detroit.

But about a month ago, he said, the state brought Brian back and placed him in the Waipahu home ― without the required input from his family, doctors and teachers.

“In the 40 or 45 years I’ve been doing these kinds of cases, I have never seen such as flagrant violation of a child and family’s rights," Seitz said….

read … Family asks for help in finding 14-year-old with severe mental illness

Homeless woman turned a drive to help others into a job ... and a path off the streets

HNN: … It wasn’t long ago she was living on a sidewalk near Old Stadium Park and was a guest of the hygiene center herself. It was a place she loved so much she began volunteering.

It’s been almost a year to the day since HNN first met Tokita.

Back then, she was donating her time to help staff at the mobile hygiene center.

Two months later, she was offered a full-time job. And soon after that, she was able to move into an apartment complex for seniors….

read … Homeless woman turned a drive to help others into a job ... and a path off the streets

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