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Saturday, November 14, 2015
November 14, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:25 PM :: 3732 Views

Feds Freeze Rail Funds? HART Knows Nothing About Caldwell’s Latest Pressure Tactic

Feds Cut off DHHL Funding Because Money Not Being Spent

HNN: Even though the wait list for a Hawaiian homestead tops 20,000, the federal government has placed a hold on housing grants to the Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands.

That's because the state agency is sitting on a stockpile of $55 million in federal housing grants that it hasn't been able to spend.

"If we don't draw down quick enough. We may lose the funding," said state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria.

"Unfortunately, we have eyes on the DHHL and some of the other agencies about the draw down of federally funded monies."

Hawaii News Now has learned that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development made no appropriations to DHHL for the current fiscal year due to the surplus.

Some worry that the federal government could take back some of the money….


read … As DHHL stockpile swells, feds withhold funding

Caldwell Doubles Down on Claims FTA Director is Cutting off Rail Funds—HART Says ‘Show us the Letter’ 

SA: The head of the Federal Transit Administration said the agency would withhold the release of $250million in grant money for the city’s $6.57 billion rail project unless it gets assurances that the City Council will pass an extension of the 0.5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax.

That’s according to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who met for about an hour this week with FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan.

Caldwell said that McMillan also made it clear that the agency expects the city to carry through with its agreement to construct a 20-mile, 21-station rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center as promised.

Council Chairman Ernie Martin, who has suggested the city consider scaling back the project in the face of rising costs, responded by saying it’s time for Council leaders, Caldwell, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials and the FTA meet to discuss the project’s future.

HART officials declined comment Friday, saying they first want to review an FTA letter that Caldwell said claims is forthcoming….

read … More Caldwell Pressure Tactics?

UnDemocratic: Over Half of Hawaii Democrat Super Delegates Back Clinton before a Single Vote is Cast

AP: Hillary Rodham Clinton has secured the support of many Democratic Party leaders in Hawaii and U.S. Pacific island territories as she pursues her party's nomination for president.

A survey by The Associated Press showed Clinton has the support of half of the superdelegates to next year's Democratic National Convention from Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa. Other superdelegates said they were not ready to declare their support for any candidate and some did not respond.

read … UnDemocratic

Sacrifice Affordable Housing to Pay for Rail?

HNN: There’s conflict over what to do about landowners who could make big profits from the city rail project. A respected local realtor says the city should be charging developers impact fees to up-zone their land.

But the city is using a different approach aimed at encouraging affordable housing development around rail.

Kamehameha Schools is the largest private landowner along the rail route, with 828 out of about 30,000 parcels.

The Howard Hughes Corporation owns large parcels of land in Kakaako that rail will run through.

So in the case of land around the rail, it's not who's getting rich but who's getting richer.

Landowners with property near the rail transit route will see their land values increase because the city is up-zoning a lot of commercial and industrially-zoned land to what's called "mixed use,” allowing residential apartments to be built.

Realtor Peter Savio wants those landowners to pay extra for that zoning.   

"So it's kind of like an impact fee. If they want to the higher zoning, they have to buy it. And if they did that, mass transit would be free," Savio said.

IM: Rail Choices for Power: HECO and HART confer

read … Sacrifice Affordable Housing

Housing First proving it’s worth its cost

SA: Measurable progress. That’s what’s needed in battling homelessness in the islands, and it is being achieved through Housing First, a program that gets people into apartments first, then addresses their sobriety. It’s a program that is expected to save taxpayers money, get people off the streets and help formerly homeless tenants turn their lives around.

In a year’s time, the Institute for Human Services has housed 173 homeless clients in 115 permanent homes using the Housing First concept, according to a preliminary report by the University of Hawaii. The city awarded IHS a $2.1 million annual contract to launch the program, which now enters a second year.

The UH study found that of the 173 people, only one was evicted and replaced by another homeless person. One ended up in jail. One died. One went into public housing to live with family. One reunited with family on Hawaii island. Only one returned to the street.

That’s measurable progress.

read … Housing First proving it’s worth its cost

State: Mauna Kea Media May be Restricted to ‘Photography Area’

CB:  The news media guidelines request that journalists coordinate with a public information officer, let the DLNR know if they’ll be on the mountain and not block any roads or interfere with law enforcement activities. The guidelines also say the DLNR may ask news gatherers to provide media credentials and stay within a designated “photography/videography area if conditions or activities warrant.”

The DLNR said the guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of reporters, photographers and videographers. But some of the rules have been criticized by news media advocates who say the the guidelines raise concerns about freedom of the press….

“I respect the DLNR’s desire to keep everyone safe on Mauna Kea, but I would strongly urge the state to give our reporters and photographers the same access as any other members of the public, including the protesters,” David Bock, Tribune-Herald editor and publisher said in a Hawaii Tribune-Herald article. “The newspaper opposes any effort to confine its news-gathering to a media staging area.”

Daniel Gluck, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an email to Civil Beat that taking photos from public property of things that are in plain sight is a First Amendment right.

“That right belongs to everyone, not just those who are official, credentialed members of the media,” said Daniel Gluck, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We would have very serious concerns if the government were requiring journalists or members of the public to have to get permission from the government before exercising this constitutional right, if the government tried to pick and choose who gets to exercise this right, or if the government tried to restrict journalists’ access to an area otherwise open to the public.”

Brian Black, who leads the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, was more measured.

“It’s difficult to say what the state intends to do with these guidelines. But if it plans to restrict access for the media more than other members of the public, that is wrong,” Black said, referencing the recent incident at the University of Missouri when the press was refused access to a public lawn.

It’s not the first time the Department of Land and Natural Resources has restricted access to the mountain. The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved emergency rules limiting access Mauna Kea in July that were aimed at discouraging protesters who were camping on the mountain. The rules resulted in more arrests of demonstrators, but a judge invalidated them in October….

Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian activist and one of the leaders of opposition to the TMT, said any limitation on media access is an attempt to manage the government’s public image and that such access is important in light of the possibility of police brutality crying again.

PDF: Mauna Kea media access guidelines

read … Media Instructions

State Investigates 28 Ala Moana Contractors

SA: The state is investigating 28 Ala Moana Center contractors for noncompliance with labor laws, casting a cloud over the opening of the mall’s $570 million Ewa wing.

The probe involves building contractors who skirted the law by paying workers under the table and not providing basic health coverage or other required insurance, said the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The state agency confirmed this week its investigation has so far found that at least seven employers did not pay temporary disability insurance or state-mandated health insurance for full-time workers. The state wouldn’t provide the names of the contractors involved or the number of workers affected.

“We are investigating 28 contractors’ compliance with labor laws,” said Bill Kunstman, spokesman for the Labor Department. “The low-hanging fruit is determining whether they have temporary disability and prepaid health care insurance. The unemployment insurance investigations take longer as we do a desk audit, then go to the employer to look at their records.”

read … Closing Barn Door After Horse Escapes

WaPo: Hawaii is the Dumbest State

DN: …It’s fair to question the reporter’s methodology in this Washington Post story written to challenge Donald Trump’s remarks about Iowa. On the other hand, Hawaii became collateral damage as he ranked the states according to his own measures, which were:

  1. IQ, as estimated by Virginia Commonwealth's Michael McDaniel in 2006
  2. 2015 SAT scores, compiled by The Post
  3. 2015 ACT scores, via the company that administers the tests
  4. The percentage of college graduates in the state, compiled by the Census Bureau

Without validating the reporter’s conclusions, this could explain much. Honolulu’s rail plans, for example….

read … Dumbest



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