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Sunday, June 5, 2016
June 5, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:31 PM :: 4327 Views

Telescope: Nobody can remove all fears of reversal

Former Hawaii Superferry en route to Maine

What Will We Do Next for Maui Hospital Workers?

Weird Legislative Proviso Part of Kobayashi-Mitsunaga Fight over UH Contracts?

SA: One of the strangest moves to come out of this year’s Legislature was the unilateral decision to move the University of Hawaii’s College of Education.

This decision was apparently reached after shape- shifting space aliens infiltrated the conference committee on the budget and inserted a line saying money to repair the UH “shall not be expended for the College of Education if the College of Education remains at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.”

(If my favorite contractor can’t get the job at UHM, I’ll move it to UHWO where he can get the job.)

The budget bill, which if signed by Gov. David Ige, will become a state law, also orders UH to not touch another $3 million appropriation “until the university establishes and implements a master plan that seamlessly transitions students and their high school pathway program and community college credits to any four-year state-funded post-secondary education institution.”

Rep. Isaac Choy, the outspoken chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, said he doesn’t like the idea, but it was just one of those things that popped into the budget….

“Moving the College of Ed has never been discussed. It is arrogant and stupid,” Shon, a former legislator, said in an interview. “It is a legitimate policy discussion, but not if you don’t discuss it.

“This is micromanagement, and shows disrespect for the students and the college,” he said. “It is unbelievable.”

Nanea Kalani, Honolulu Star-Advertiser education reporter, wrote last month that Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, as vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, was responsible for much of the state construction budget, (BINGO!) including the College of Education proviso….

Dela Cruz said in an interview. “We’re creating all these new programs, and graduates aren’t getting jobs….”  (So lets create some construction jobs.)

Sen Dela Cruz pops up in this 2013 Mitsunaga vs Kobayashi exchange below:

read … Weird legislative provisos look like work of aliens

Charter Commission Recommends Abolition of Neighborhood Boards

SA: The recent decision by a committee of the City Charter Commission to recommend that the 33 Oahu neighborhood boards be abolished came as an unpleasant surprise to many.

No one really expected that any such proposal would be given more than just a passing glance.

The committee essentially said that the boards’ face-to-face public discussion and debate should be replaced with social media, emails and faxes.

It also criticized the cost of running the board system even though 33 boards, with 437 volunteer members, are funded for less than the cost of one house on Oahu.

The proposal would take away a well-established system that promotes public expression of opinions and values concerning government decisions affecting our neighborhoods….

In these times, when 1 percent of the nation’s population has more than 95 percent of the wealth, it is even more important to have our neighborhood boards seeking the public’s opinions and values, and speaking on our behalf.

May 24: Charter Commission Proposal: Eliminate Neighborhood Boards

read … Grass Roots

Council Creates $18M Slush Fund—Uses Homeless as Excuse

SA: HART’s budgets, which are separate from the city’s operating and capital improvements budgets, were dealt a significant blow, with punitive undertones.

The rail agency has been under fire for cost overruns, with federal officials estimating the transit system’s price tag will be $8.1 billion.

HART’s $19.26 million operating budget was cut $807,000 for office space rent, about $570,000 in salaries and $1 million for attorneys’ fees.

While sure to squeeze HART operations, the money “saved” would go toward creation of a $2 million transit mitigation fund for landowners and businesses harmed by rail construction. A mitigation fund would certainly buoy suffering businesses — as well as their attitudes toward Council members — but it’s worrisome how downsizing of HART personnel and space at Alii Place might hurt the rail project.

HART stands to lose a dozen planners, engineers and project managers at a time when construction is ramping up, said HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas, who contends it “will be a stress.” Reducing staff quantity makes sense only if quality doesn’t suffer.

As for homelessness and the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP) budget, Council members took a dubious turn away from a desired comprehensive strategy. Although $20 million of CIP was allotted to help the homeless, $18 million of it would be spread across the nine Council districts evenly at $2 million apiece.

Considering that some districts’ homeless situations are far more serious than others, it’s difficult to see the wisdom here. For starters, it’s questionable how much lasting progress can be made with $2 million per district for “land acquisition, lease, development and/or renovation of facilities for urban rest stops, navigation centers, workforce/affordable housing, and other community-focused projects initiated by community stakeholders.”

Further, it’s unclear how exactly this will work since it would force the administration to take direction from the Council. While stakeholder participation is important, piecemeal planning rarely produces optimal results.

What is needed is a well-thought-out plan, with a list of priority projects and corresponding costs. Instead, the $2 million rations seem like slush funds for each Council member’s district.

Noticeably absent from the budget is the $470,000 Mayor Kirk Caldwell had requested to set up a new eight-person Asset Development and Management Division. It’s disgraceful the City Council couldn’t see fit to provide even partial funding to beef up staff to accelerate acquisitions for affordable housing, to create much-needed housing stock to help shed the state’s unenviable distinction of having the nation’s highest per-capita rate of homelessness….

read … Dubious

Kakaako Makai: OHA’s First Move is to Tear  Down Revenue-Generating Building

SA: (How will OHA continue to undermine its own trust fund?)  …The state will need to spend as much as $14.6 million on renovations, relocation costs and lease rent to move several hundred government workers out of a state-owned office building on Ala Moana Boulevard that has been turned over to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  (Because OHA is too crooked to just keep collecting the rent money.)

The Army &Air Force Exchange Service building at 919 Ala Moana Blvd. was transferred to OHA in 2012 as part of a larger settlement to resolve claims by OHA for its share of the income from ceded lands dating back more than 30 years.

The state paid $17.5 million to buy the AAFES building in 1998, but OHA as the new owner is planning a redevelopment of the site that likely will involve demolishing the four-story structure. 

(Choose one: Building will sit vacant for years to come --- OR --- Building will be knocked down to reward favored demolition contractor and site will sit vacant for years.)

Kamanaopono Crabbe, chief executive officer of OHA, said in a written statement he hopes OHA can strike a deal to have the state offices lease space in the building until OHA is ready to redevelop the Kakaako Makai lands, which he said will happen “through a timeline that has yet to be determined.”  (ie Never)

However, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Accounting and General Services said OHA told the tenants they will need to clear out of the property by mid-2018.  (B-bye)

Crabbe said OHA has launched a master planning process for the Kakaako Makai lands it now controls “to create a sustainable revenue stream to bolster our strategic plan to perpetuate our culture and to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians through our advocacy and our grants programs.”

(Translation: To create a revenue stream for OHA’s favored architects.)

read … About a building which will sit now vacant for years

Kauai Pesticide Report: “Obvious Disconnect”

KE: A front-page article in today's Star-Advertiser makes it clear that state health and agriculture officials have little regard for the $175,000 Joint Fact Finding report on pesticides.

They dismissed many of the recommendations as impractical, expensive, unlikely to be useful and in some cases, exceeding state expertise and authority.

They also pointed out the group's bias. Here are key excerpts from the piece:

“There is an obvious disconnect between what the document reports and shows and what the recommendations are,” said Fenix Grange, program manager for the Hawaii Department of Health’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office. “Truly, there is no smoking gun in the report for health or environmental impacts.”

Group members reviewed health statistics on low birth weight babies, birth defects, autism, development delays in children, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other disabilities, cancer, obesity and diabetes — all of which have shown some association with various pesticides. There were no statistically significant differences in illness rates for west side Kauai residents and residents across the island or statewide.

For example, 7 percent of babies in Waimea, on Kauai’s west side, had a low birth weight, compared to 8 percent of babies statewide in 2012.

Cancer rates on Kauai, including the west side, were also similar to or significantly lower than the rest of state, according to 2000-2009 data from the Hawaii Tumor Registry.

Because of the small population size on Kauai’s west side, it’s difficult for data to reflect any slight increases in illnesses or disabilities. Still, the birth defect and cancer data are particularly meaningful, said Barbara Brooks, the state toxicologist, who also works in the hazard evaluation office.

“If there was an unusual number of cancers on the west side, the (tumor registry) would have picked it up,” she said.

Group members also reviewed hundreds of pages of reports, including 15 sampling studies done on Kauai, related to pesticides in the environment. The reports showed some evidence of pesticide migration, but mostly at trace amounts. Most of the pesticides are believed to be from chemicals used decades ago on sugar cane fields.

A statewide stream study did find levels of atrazine and metolachlor downstream of Kauai seed crop operations that were below regulatory standards, but were slightly above aquatic life benchmarks.

“Given the data that we have, we don’t see a big issue,” said Grange.

Grange said that the department isn’t convinced that the long-term soil and dust sampling recommended in the report would be productive.

“We would not support those measures,” she said.

Big Q: What do you think about the new Kauai pesticide study and recommendations by a joint fact-finding group?

SA: State officials, experts question the practicality of group’s pesticide report

read … Musings: Dismissed

Will  Ige Sign Fishing Ban?  “This is our ice box, not a playground for the rich”

WHT: …The sea is full of fish. Especially on one stretch of North Kona coastline whose closure for 10 years needs only the governor’s signature to be final.

That’s according to the 40 or so fishermen who lined Queen Kaahumanu Highway waving signs on Saturday to protest the establishment of the Kaupulehu Marine Reserve, the island’s first initiative to put a reef off-limits to fishing while a subsistence plan is drafted for the 3.6 miles of coastline at Kaupulehu Bay.

Anglers who troll, cast nets and fish with spears were angered that such bounty was being placed out of their reach, and questioned the state’s motives for the closure.

“Out of all of the areas on the island, they want to close the one in front of the millionaires and billionaires,” said Abram Boido, owner of Mobile Marine Repair Service in Kailua-Kona. “Ask yourself, is it the fishing?”

In late May, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the creation of the reserve and a decade-long moratorium on taking fish inside of 120 of depth….

Billionaire’s Website: Big Island’s New Marine Reserve Was A Long Time Coming

read … Save Hawaii from those who would Save Hawaii

Hawaii Only State Which Does not Report Hate Crimes

HNN: Hawaii is the only state that doesn't participate in the FBI's Hate Crime Statistics Program. Instead, state officials currently compile their own hate crimes report with information collected from local prosecutors rather than police.

Because Hawaii's four local police agencies don't send such information to the FBI, the nine hate crimes recorded in a statewide report from 2009 to 2014 were not reflected in the national statistics. The state's most recent report includes two hate crimes in 2015, both on Kauai involving anti-Caucasian epithets.

Filing reports for the federal count is voluntary.

The state is moving toward a new police reporting system that will involve sending hate crime reports to the FBI.

In the meantime, some legal experts and community advocates expressed concern that the current system might not truly reflect Hawaii's hate crime climate.

"Leaving it up to local prosecutors to exercise discretion is probably resulting in skewing information about these matters," said Eric Seitz, a Honolulu attorney who represented two gay women who recently settled their lawsuit against Honolulu for $80,000 over allegations a police officer unnecessarily arrested them (after they assaulted him while staging an incident involving) for kissing in a grocery store.

It's driven by a desire to protect Hawaii's image in the tourism industry, he said: "(The state) doesn't want negative things to be publicized." ….

SA: New system will let police submit data on hate crimes

AP: Patchy reporting undercuts national hate crimes count

read … Hawaii hate crimes data reported by prosecutors, not police

Hu Honua: Just Another ILWU Crony Capitalist Disaster

SA: …For the 18,000 members of the ILWU and their families across Hawaii, projects like Hu Honua mean a great deal.

We have members working at the facility, and are keen to preserve the labor agreements and partnerships ILWU has with Hu Honua. The sooner the utility engages to negotiate extensions, the sooner we can put more folks to work.

The project would fuel more than 200 construction jobs for a year. When in service, it would employ 30 full-time operations and maintenance workers. More than 180 ancillary jobs are anticipated in biomass forestry, harvesting and hauling, and at local service shops….

read … ILWU’s Mess

Feds Demand End to Hawaii Ag Building Code Exemptions

SA: …Giving Gov. David Ige more than a year’s notice, the U.S. government is threatening to suspend the sale of federally backed flood insurance in Hawaii unless the state amends or revokes a state law that conflicts with the national insurance program.

Such a suspension could end coverage for 60,000 policy holders statewide and jeopardize Hawaii’s eligibility for some federal disaster assistance.

But the state says it won’t come to that.

In a letter sent to Ige in mid-April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the state has until July 31, 2017, to amend or repeal the law or FEMA would start proceedings to suspend Hawaii’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program….

The vast majority of flood insurance polices in Hawaii are issued through that program, representing more than $13 billion in coverage risk here. FEMA administers the program.

The law drawing the agency’s attention was enacted to help Hawaii farmers and ranchers, exempting the construction of certain agricultural structures from building code requirements.

That same law has become the center of a growing controversy at Kunia Loa Ridge Farmlands, an off-the-grid agricultural development where dozens of unregulated structures have been built. One recently was erected in the middle of what farmers say is a dry streambed.

The state already is working with FEMA and the counties to propose amending the law in the next legislative session, according to Jodi Leong, a spokeswoman for the governor. The session runs from January to May.

read … FEMA warns of flood insurance cutoff

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