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Tuesday, June 21, 2016
June 21, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:07 PM :: 4495 Views

HGEA Announces Primary Election Endorsements

Ige Extends Homeless Emergency Proclamation

Education Savings Accounts: A New Way Forward

Ige’s not on board with Caldwell’s idea of shortening train route

Borreca: …when Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Council Chairman Ernie Martin say stop rail before it hits downtown because the city ran out of money, Ige disagrees.

“We need to come up with a plan we can afford, but the plan needs to be the full 20 miles; we need to run the route,” Ige said in an interview Monday….

Ige, like other state officials, doesn’t like the Caldwell-Martin solution of just postponing rail, essentially building half the system and then start scratching around for more money.

Last week, House Speaker Joe Souki complained that he voted for an entire rail system in 2005, not this truncated plan.

“I didn’t envision this stopping at Middle Street, I didn’t even envision it stopping at Ala Moana,” Souki said in an interview. “I saw a system going to Waikiki and the UH; that’s what I voted for.”…

(Ige) said, planners should prioritize the unbuilt rail stations — decide what stations, estimated to cost around a $100 million each, could be dropped from the route to save money.

Then the city needs to get the private sector, which will benefit from the rail stations, to put some private money into the game. The big economic interests in Kakaako and Ala Moana Center should also be paying for rail.

“I don’t understand why there is not any private participation in the stations,” said Ige.

“Every single transit system I have used across the country has private participation in the stations. We have zero dollars in private participation.” …

Finally, Ige said, the city should rethink its financing model. Although there is some discussion of tapping city bond financing, almost the entire $8.1 billion project is being paid for with cash — and Ige said the debt could be restructured. Also, he said, those along the route could contribute to paying for the train going by their property….

Asked if he would submit legislation to next year’s Legislature to help fund the rail line, Ige said “No.”

read … Ige’s not on board with idea of shortening train route

Chief Kealoha files 1,000 Page Lawsuit: Claims Ethics is a Haole Conspiracy

KHON: Honolulu’s police chief and his wife say a federal grand jury targeting them can be traced in part to what they call “vindictive and illegal investigations” by the Honolulu Ethics Commission, and they’re suing to set the record straight.

The thousand-page lawsuit, filed Friday, is against the city, the commission, a former investigator and the agency’s longtime director who, just days before, had quit after saying he had cases in limbo and had difficulties bringing charges in general….

Many of the alleged offenses the feds are looking into have been widely leaked to the media, and several had first been raised in a slew of Ethics Commission investigations against the Kealohas; none of the nearly 20 Ethics Commission cases have yet resulted in final charges or signed settlements.

The Kealohas’ lawsuit piles on hundreds of pages of documentation in an attempt to debunk allegations of their wrongdoing. The Kealohas also charge that Ethics Commission investigations, referrals of their suspicions to other agencies, and, they say, leaks of them to the media were motivated by vendettas and not legitimate complaints….

The Kealohas had previously filed a civil rights complaint alleging minorities have received worse treatment than Caucasians for the past 16 years under Totto, and that became a federal case the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken up….

“But many of their complaints are with the method and the persistence of the Ethics Commission staff and investigators. Isn’t that what we want in an Ethics Commission? Someone who doggedly goes after potential wrongdoing?” 

CN: HI Police Chief Contests Ethics Probe

read … Haole Conspiracy

Chief, Wife Sue Ethics Again and Again

SA: …This is not the first time the Kealohas have sued the city Ethics Commission.

Katherine Kealoha sued the commission under the pseudonym “Public Servant” in July, asking for a copy of whatever ethics complaint might have been filed against her.

After her lawyers had the suit dismissed, they filed another one in September for plaintiffs “Doe” and “Roe” again asking for copies of any complaints. The second lawsuit also accused Totto and DeCaires of having conflicts of interest and asked the court to disqualify them. Another state judge dismissed those claims as well.

Despite telling the Honolulu Police Commission that he has not been informed by the FBI that he is under criminal investigation, Chief Kealoha acknowledged the investigation last month in a television news interview….

read … Suit

Star-Adv: Use full vetting for grants in aid

SA: …Politicians look good if they’re able to secure large sums of taxpayer money for constituent causes. In the current fiscal year ending June 30, the Council tacked on $2.16 million for 23 agencies — only $100,000, though, will likely be released — above the $6.1 million already set aside through the standard grants-in-aid process.

That grants process is the result of a Honolulu City Charter amendment approved by voters in 2012 that sets aside for nonprofit groups one-half of 1 percent of all city general fund collections. With it comes a thorough vetting process by the seven-member Grants in Aid Advisory Commission — and a grant limit of $125,000 per request.

As a matter of principle, the Council should ensure all nonprofit grants be submitted for vetting by the advisory commission rather than inserted into the city’s operating budget as pet projects.

This year, the commission received 98 applications from nonprofits and 58 were awarded grants for fiscal year 2017, totaling $6.19 million. The worthy groups include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council and Special Olympics Hawaii.

Still, the Council felt compelled to add another $2.35 million for 20 organizations, one of which had already been awarded funding through the formal grants-in-aid method.

To underscore his opposition, Caldwell has refused to release the money for nearly all of the Council add-ons for nonprofits over the past few years. Yet the Council continues this exercise in futility.

We’d prefer that the City Council serve as the taxpayers’ watchdog of sorts. Instead, its members are carving out exceptions when it serves their interests and skirting the prescribed application process.

There is no room for arbitrarily showering nonprofits with taxpayer money

read … Use full vetting for grants in aid

Brower Never Learns: Still Pushing for Gigantic Festering Homeless Tent Cities Everywhere 

SA: …His proposal, House Resolution 62, called on the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to establish “homeless safe zones” in which homeless individuals could legally camp and use a restroom, with the zones operated by nonprofit agencies.

“We can either designate areas where the homeless can be, or do nothing and let them continue to be everywhere,” Brower wrote. “If enough safe zones are created, the homeless cannot say they have ‘no place to go’ and continue monopolizing our parks and sidewalks. They will now have a place to go.”

Brower still advocates for “safe zones,” which don’t yet exist. Maintaining that government must enforce laws to clear sidewalks and parks, he envisions the zones as a place for the homeless to go until they can be placed in more permanent housing.

read … Brower Never Learns

World Travel: The City Council’s Invisible Spending

CB: Last December, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin flew to Chigasaki, Japan to give a speech in Honolulu’s newly designated sister city.

According to city records, it was the second time he traveled to the city south of Tokyo for City Council business within two months.

But you wouldn’t know any of that if you checked Martin’s official travel or expense reports online.

The councilman representing the North Shore didn’t post travel reports for those trips on the City Council website. There weren’t any details about the trips in his expense report for his individual City Council allowance, either. Every Council member gets an allowance of $20,000 per year.

Instead, to fund his trips to Japan, Martin dipped into a $95,000 pot of money known as a protocol fund. The money must be used for official city business and the Council chair has discretion as to how it’s spent.

But unlike City Council members’ individual allowances, no record of how the money is spent is available online.

In recent years, the amount of money in the protocol fund has increased considerably. Three years ago, it had $19,900. In fiscal year 2015, the Council upped the amount to $47,500. This year, that grew to $95,000. Next year’s budget has $99,000.

read … Invisible

Don’t throw out policy on teacher travel

SA: Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Nishimura faulted the advisory opinion for being issued after deadline and said it is subject to formal rulemaking. But in this case, the opinion was what prompted a new policy for how school-related trips and those that are strictly supplemental should be arranged. Let’s hope the BOE doesn’t abandon what seems to be an improvement in policy….

read … Teacher Travel

HECO Issues Point by Point Debunk of Rep Chris Lee

CB: In each situation described by Rep. Lee, the record is absolutely clear that Hawaiian Electric made decisions to protect our customers, based on sound business and technical reasons, not based on direction by NextEra Energy.

Some examples:

  • He’s wrong to say rooftop solar approvals “unilaterally ceased” after NextEra proposed the merger. We continuously review and approve rooftop solar applications and green lighted more than 77,000 systems, including 26,000 in the 18 months since NextEra proposed the merger.
  • He’s wrong to say we “appeared to reverse” ourselves on a geothermal project on Hawaii Island and somehow “pushed” out the developer. Not true. We sought out the project and were disappointed when the developer withdrew for its own business reasons.
  • He’s wrong to say we’ve “reversed course” on our commitment to renewable energy projects. Just two weeks ago, we asked regulators to allow us to seek proposals for more renewables on Oahu. In West Oahu, construction of the Eurus solar farm is underway, and new solar projects are in development on Maui, as well.

When Rep. Lee opines on Hawaii Electric Light’s decision to cancel a contract for the Hu Honua biomass project, his assumptions and speculation are easily refuted by the public record.

The developers’ construction issues and other problems are well documented…

read … HECO vs Lee

Crazy Hawaii Renewable Energy Proposals

IM: Gay & Robinson proposed importing coal to convert biomass into ethanol.  Therefore, the State therefore amended the law….

Companies were destroying rainforests, displacing native peoples and killing endangered species to monocrop palm oil. Smoke clouds, some hundreds of miles long, blanketed the South-Eastern Asian sky.

Imperium Renewables proposed to ship the palm oil to Seattle, where it could be processed to work in extremely cold environments (in order for the company to get a federal tax credit) and then shipped to O`ahu so HECO could burn it in a power plant….

Grays Harbor, a Seattle developer, filed a federal application to build ocean-based wind and wave energy facilities in Penguin Bank, a seamount off southwestern Molokai….

Developers proposed that large portions of western Molokai and Lanai would be industrialized with 200-400 MW of wind turbines on each island to feed power to O`ahu.

Although there were significant unresolved environmental, cultural and cost impacts, the most significant unresolved problem dealt with reliability. 
This reliability issue was camouflaged by relying exclusively on confidential documents….

Aina Koa Pono proposed using microwaves to turn biomass into biofuel using experimental technology.

The biofuel would be trucked from Pahala (near South Point) on the Big Island to Keahole to be burned in HELCO generators.

The project would have been the most expensive form of electricity ever made in Hawaii.
The process would be so costly that HECO ratepayers on O`ahu would have to be billed $250,000,000 over the lifetime of the facility in order to subsidize the oil sold to HELCO….

A decade ago there was an attempted land grab along the Hamakua Coast, where DLNR would break existing leases with farmers, without informing them, and convert part of their land to other developers, for speculative biomass facilities.

Only the proposed Hu Honua project remains with a proposed facility and no specificity as to what fuel would be used.

HELCO recently ended negotiations….

read … Crazy Hawaii Renewable Energy Proposals

Sticking Up For GOP Values Or Tearing The Party Apart?

CB: The Hawaii GOP’s deep divisions are driven by frustration and disagreement over how to overcome Democrats’ stranglehold on power in the islands….

Political analyst Milner says that although HIRA’s approach “may seem crack-potty and goofy, it is speaking out in frustration. No Republican Party in the United States is as marginalized as Hawaii’s GOP. Critics are seeking change.” ….

CDN: Hawaii’s Bryan Jeremiah (R) is a flagship candidate for change

read … GOP

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