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Friday, April 22, 2016
April 22, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:07 PM :: 3800 Views

SB2301: Legislators Vote $10M for Drunk Driver to Promote Rave Parties

Hanabusa Named Chair of HART

Ira Einhorn, Earth Day's Dirty Secret

Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

Zika: Pregnant Women Should Avoid Travel to American Samoa

Tulsi Gabbard Turns 35--Running for Vice President?

42-in Water Main? Hanabusa Caught Flatfooted on First Day as HART Chair

HNN: It's hidden deep under several miles of Dillingham Boulevard, a water main big enough to provide water for Honolulu, Waikiki and Hawaii Kai.

The 42-inch main was completed about 11 years ago, after ten years of work that involved tearing up the street.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the Honolulu Board of Water Supply will have to move parts, if not large segments, of the main to make way for the $6.5 billion rail transit project.

"I had not heard before about a 42-inch water main. There is no way to avoid a 42-inch water main," said Colleen Hanabusa, who was elected Chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation today….

We asked HART about the potential problem two days ago but CEO Dan Grabauskas declined comment, saying his staff hasn't briefed him yet….

There are no cost estimates yet on the water main. But some fear that the fixes could cost millions of dollars. Environmental activist Carroll Cox, who first uncovered the problem, said doing nothing about pipeline also could be costly.

"When the water main breaks, water is being released and it undermines the ground. Does that pose a risk to the structure of the rail itself," he said. "How do you service that main or breakage?"

According to the Board of Water Supply all of the costs will be paid for by the rail authority -- and that both sides are still discussing plans on how to proceed….

read … Surrrprise!

Rail: Short Another $82M, Feds Threaten to Take Back $1.55B

SA: …Board members Thursday also fretted over the $6.57 billion project’s growing costs after HART staff reported that the latest bid proposals to build the guideway and four stations around the airport could be as much as 10 percent higher than the rail agency’s most recent $820 million cost estimates for that work.

It’s becoming less certain that the city will have the funds to complete rail to Ala Moana Center, and for what was likely the first time in an official HART board meeting, HART leaders discussed stopping the public transit project short at Middle Street if costs grow too high.

“Don’t we owe it to the public to talk about alternatives” rather than “ramrodding this 20-mile system through and we can’t afford it?” board member Terrence Lee said. Board member Ivan Lui Kwan added that they needed to consider a “worst-case scenario.”

Federal transit officials have already warned that if the city takes that step — a move that would breach its federal funding contract — then the city would forfeit some $1.55 billion in federal rail dollars, and it could have to repay at least $472 million that it’s already collected. Some local officials, including Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, have said they believe the project’s federal partners would instead work toward a “realistic financial plan” to finish the project….

Caldwell proposed using some of the state’s controversial 10 percent skim of rail’s general excise tax surcharge to fund actual rail construction if the project needs more money. That 10 percent fee could generate about $500 million with the recent five-year tax extension, and it’s been shown to be much more cash than the state’s tax department needs to administer the Oahu-based surcharge.

Nonetheless, efforts to reform that state fee have died in previous legislative sessions.

“This is a conversation we would have to have with the state Legislature,” Caldwell said. “It would have to be next year. But I think it’s something to be looked at.”…

read … We Told You So

Hawaii’s Criminal Class ‘Embattled’

Borreca: …An increasing number of local politicians, community leaders and projects are being tagged as “embattled.”

Not only is the number increasing, but those with the description are not doing much to clean up their record, leading to an embattlement surplus.

Topping the list of those “engaged in battle, conflict or controversy” are the HART big shots: Don Horner, the just-resigned chairman of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation; and Dan Grabauskas, still holding the job as HART executive director and still embattled.

While Ernie Martin, the City Council chairman, is calling for the heads of both Horner and Grabauskas, he appears to have claimed only one victim.

Still, City Hall is a good hunting ground for those who are embattled. Add Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine Kealoha, to the list because they are the subjects of a federal grand jury investigation, a fate that almost always earns you an “embattled” description.

The same goes for getting hit by a local grand jury. Billy Kenoi may remained much loved in Hawaii County, but the Big Island’s mayor was indicted by a state grand jury and is also embattled….

read … Embattled

Ethics chief must be independent

SA: An opening at the helm of the state Ethics Commission likely will be left today, with the nomination of current commission Executive Director Les Kondo to head the state Office of the Auditor….

The Ethics Commission met Thursday and is ramping up to find Kondo’s replacement.

The need for a successor did not arise until it was too late to add it to the agenda for this week’s meeting.

The panel could take it up at its May meeting. So it’s encouraging that the commission set a meeting for Thursday to begin discussing the process. Assuming Kondo is confirmed, the vacancy should be filled promptly….

read … Ethics chief must be independent

Urgent?  Six Months later, UH regents remain undecided on a Cancer Center plan

SA: …The Board of Regents on Thursday could not reach consensus on how best to move forward with the plan. Some regents want the university’s president to improve on the proposal and make a formal recommendation; a few others backed the idea of forming a regent task force to help take the lead.

UH President David Lassner said his administration has been soliciting feedback on the plan and has met with external reviewers, and continues to make amendments.

“It is my opinion that at this point it would make more sense to see what the Legislature does, because we’ll know that over the next couple weeks,” Lassner told the board Thursday at its monthly meeting, held at Honolulu Community College. (Lawmakers are negotiating the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.)

“And depending on what number comes out of the Legislature, we will have to modify that plan if it isn’t the same number that was built into that plan, which was the $5 million,” he added. “It could come out anywhere from $5 million to zero. Frankly, we’re not quite sure at this point.”

An agenda item seeking the appointment of a task group ultimately failed Thursday in a 2-13 vote.

UH-Manoa professor Bob Cooney, chairman of the Manoa Faculty Senate, had supported the idea.

“What was presented or put together by the dean of the medical school is not a business plan or a strategic plan,” he testified. “It really needs to look at where the Cancer Center is going and what is economically feasible.”

Regent Benjamin Kudo, who opposed the idea, said, “I don’t think that a task force at this time should be formed to supplant the responsibilities of the administration to bring forward a better plan — a better business plan.”

Kudo added, “I think that it’s very important that the administration proceed forward in good faith to really look at the business plan that was put forth by Dean Hedges, and to determine whether it can be improved upon both in terms of financial resources as well as management issues and restructuring.”

The regents did, however, unanimously support a resolution acknowledging the worth of the Cancer Center and its federal National Cancer Institute designation for the state and region….

read … About a Bunch of Bumbling Idiots

Caldwell Cracks Down on Crime in Chinatown:  Drugs? Prostitution? Gambling?  --  Nope, Its Illegal Gardening

HNN: …"Honestly, like 40 different people, random people that aren't customers necessarily, passer bys, that have knocked on the window of my store, give me a thumbs up," she said.

But at least one person complained. And the city came calling.

"I got a call last week Friday, and a follow-up email yesterday, basically saying that it was not permitted, and it needed to come down by tomorrow."

The call came from the City Department of Planning and Permitting. A city spokesman said putting up fences could cause a hazard on the sidewalk, or even block it.

There have been other attempts by citizens to beautify their neighborhoods. For example, a group of surfers was allowed to clear the bush and do some landscaping in an area below the Diamond Head lookout. However, the city told the surfers they had to remove a small memorial.

Oaks said her little garden in Chinatown is a big improvement, compared to what else is going on nearby.

"The city is concerned about something positive that I did that's costing them zero money," she said. "Meanwhile, there's a constant problem with the homeless camp in the park across the street. We have illegal dumping."

The city has given Oaks until Friday to remove the garden. Will she do it?

"Nope," she said. …

read … Harass Small Business

Outreach workers see growing number of homeless living in cars

HNN: On Thursday morning, cars pack the parking lot at Ala Moana Beach Park. It's Rayna Brown's job to search out the cars that double as homes.

"Sometimes you don't know they're homeless until you walk up to the car," said Brown, of the Institute for Human Services.

Making rounds to search out the homeless living in cars is new, and it's partly in response to a growing trend.

Since the start of the year, IHS has received 65 referrals about homeless living in cars.

Service providers can only guess how many people are living like this. That's because the yearly point and time count doesn't track the information. Instead, homeless spotted living in cars are counted among the unsheltered homeless….

read … Outreach workers look to help growing number of homeless living in cars

19% of isle households not linked with internet

SA: Q: Too many times the media, the government, the schools and everything act like it’s easy for anyone to look stuff up online. But we don’t all have a smartphone or computer or even internet access at home! What percentage of people in Hawaii are connected to the internet? I don’t think I am alone.

Answer: You are not alone but you are in the minority. In 2014, 87 percent of Hawaii households had a computer, and 81 percent of Hawaii households subscribed to broadband internet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey….

read … Not Linked

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