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Monday, June 6, 2016
June 6, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:41 PM :: 3069 Views

HCR29: Legislators Vote to Abolish ERS, End Free Speech for Star-Advertiser

Auditor: City Computers Remain Vulnerable to Hackers

Aloha, Puerto Rico

Quick, low-cost traffic fixes Make $8.1B Rail System Look Even More Wasteful

SA: …Starting at some point in August, the state Department of Transportation promises to widen the contraflow area enough to fit two traffic lanes instead of one.

The morning commuter lane, now open 5:30-8:30 a.m. weekdays between Waipahu and Kalihi, also will stay open for a half-hour later, a move that officials hope will accommodate up to 1,700 additional vehicles per hour.

This serves as a prime example of the multipronged approach Oahu will require if its transportation system is to function tolerably in the coming decades.

Billions are being spent on a rail system that will be a necessary alternative conduit for (contracts and payoffs to campaign contributors) …. (But if we spend a few million on simple and easy ideas, we can make it look good)….

There are other relatively quick and simple traffic-management fixes under way, according to the DOT:

>> An afternoon contraflow is being added to Farrington Highway through its most congested stretch in the Nanakuli area. This is also pegged to start in August, said DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara….

>> Tow trucks will be staged along Farrington to keep the lanes clear in a more timely way.

>> The shoulder lane running between the Aiea Heights overpass and the Pearl City exit will have expanded hours, also later this summer. Now open between 3:30 and 6 p.m., the new hours will be 3-7 p.m, he said.

>> A new shoulder lane in the eastbound direction is being planned to open for the new school year as well to ease the morning rush. This one will serve traffic along Kualakai Parkway for Kapolei commuters traveling toward Honolulu.

The state Department of Transportation is spending up to $3.5 million on the Zipper Lane expansion (which is 1/2314th of the cost of Rail)….

read … Real Traffic Solutions

Rail annual operating costs pegged at $100M—Mostly Electricity

HNN: The rail transit will cost city taxpayers up to $100 million a year once it's finally operating.

But the City Auditor and Honolulu Council members are worried that the rail authority has not yet developed a plan for where that money to operate and maintain the system will come from.

"One hundred million dollars is 5 percent of our entire operating budget every year so ... who is going to pay for it?" said City Councilmember Trevor Ozawa.

"We have to commit so much for sewage projects. We have a huge budget for police, fire and ambulances."

State and city lawmakers have already authorized a five-year increase in the 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge to pay for a projected $1 billion in construction cost overruns and other costs increased brought on by lawsuit-related delays.

But Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council members have vowed not to increase property taxes to pay for rail's operating costs.

"As long as I'm here, I won't allow them to raise property taxes for rail," said City Council Budget Committee Chair Ann Kobayashi.

In April, City Auditor Edwin Young slammed rail authorities for not developing a plan for future operating and maintenance costs….

About 30 percent of the rail's operating and maintenance costs will be covered by fares. The remaining 70 percent is subsidized the city….

read … $100M

Government Contracting Explained: Two Years of Bungling on Playground Renovation

WHT: …For two years, the school and its Parent Teacher Student Association have been fundraising to revamp the playground. Despite the groups raising more than $30,000 for the project, the youngsters are still waiting for a new jungle gym from which to swing.

Landers, who serves as the new president of the Waikoloa PTSA, said the reason is that the Department of Education can’t make up its mind.

“The problem has been that the DOE seems to keep changing its rules and standards, and communication has not been all that great,” she said. “Each time we thought we’d made progress, the DOE would come back with a new demand, forcing the vendors to draw up new plans and new prices, which then had to be resubmitted.”

Landers asserts the DOE has slowed the project on at least four separate occasions. Once, it was to reduce the overall area by 500 square feet. Later, the DOE said the playground’s quoted price must be reduced by $10,000….

read … Waikoloa school, DOE back and forth on playground renovation

Rising budget tells a story of increasing spending

KGI: …Mr. Rapozo left the Council in 2008 when the annual budget was $145 million. He came back in 2010 when the budget was $154 million, and has approved increases until now, when the budget has grown to a projected $188 million for the current year. That’s $34 million in new spending.

There are no fiscal reserves as they were drained to meet general fund needs over this period. Property tax revenues have ballooned, along with new tax categories that were created to pump more revenue from the system, vehicle weight taxes have increased, new gas taxes have been imposed, and other fees have been created over this time.This takes money out of everyone’s pocket, especially working families.

The county’s credit rating has also been downgraded….

read … Rising budget tells a story of increasing spending

Steered by Crafty Lawyers--Homeless settling in, in Iwilei

SA: …Honblue has hired part-time employees to hose down the sidewalk in front of its offices every morning to wash away human urine and feces, Heim said.

“We employ approximately 135 people, and our people have to walk down the middle of the street,” he said. “Just yesterday two people defecated on our front doorway. It’s a health-and-safety issue.”

Over the past six months, more than 75 homeless people have moved into Iwilei and set up encampments lashed together out of wooden pallets, plywood and lumber exactly like the reinforced encampments that filled up Kakaako last year….

Philip Richardson, who owns two businesses on Pine Street, said problems have jumped in the past few months.

“Ever since Waikiki got cleaned out and Kakaako got cleaned out, it’s been building,” Richardson said.

He ran down a list of complaints that included “defecation, trespassing, theft, littering, car break-ins.”

The closure of the Kmart across from the Institute for Human Services men’s shelter helped exacerbate the encampments, which are now sprouting up around a construction barrier that encircles the shuttered property.

“The homeless population within this area are pretty hard-core drug users,” said IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho. “They prey on our clients and have even gotten a couple that were on a great path forward back into addiction.”

Kalihi-Palama Health Center regularly dispatches outreach workers who are seeing new faces in Iwilei, said Leslie Uyehara, director of Kalihi-Palama’s Health Care for the Homeless Project.

“Some of them are transient. They come and go when the sweeps happen,” Uyehara said. “It’s not always the same group of people.”

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, called the new arrivals to Iwilei “a different type of homeless population than you see in other parts of the island. My understanding is that some of the individuals have been homeless for longer periods of time and tend to have more limited financial resources, as well as mental health and substance abuse issues.”

The biggest encampments are located along Iwilei, Sumner and Kuwili streets, said IHS’ Carvalho.

But the most noticeable new one popped up about a month ago on the mauka side of Nimitz Highway in front of the Lowe’s hardware store in direct view of thousands of vehicles that pass by day and night….“it’s shishi in a bucket, dump ’em in the street.”

Just like multiple landownership that allowed the Kakaako encampment to grow, Morishige said Iwilei also has “jurisdictional questions that continue to be challenging.”  (Translation: Activist lawyers told us this would be a good place to camp out.)

read … Settling In

Civil Beat: Homeless Must be Returned to Waikiki

CB: Is it more important that tourists not see these people? Or that we see them and treat them as people? Is there not some middle ground more balanced than where we now find ourselves?

read … Honolulu’s Not-So-Glamorous NY Times Closeup

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