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Saturday, September 10, 2016
September 10, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:20 PM :: 3778 Views

HART Whistleblower: Sinking Columns, Cracked Welds, Useless Designs, and Structural Failures

US policies may hurt Micronesians more than they help

How Guam May Impact Hawaii: Race-Based Voting Deja Vu

Rent control would worsen affordable housing shortage

Whistleblowers, ex-staff speak out on rail cost and delays

KHON: …Earlier this year, a federal consultant and HART pegged rail’s cost to Ala Moana at around $8 billion. The statistical model put upward of $10 billion as an outlying number, one both the feds and HART officials called unlikely.

But that’s a number engineers with direct knowledge of the actual contracts, change orders and payments say is likely.

“I think it’s too late. I think it’s going to end up around $10 billion, especially if it’s built all the way to Ala Moana,” according to former project engineer Mark Swatta, who just left the job he did for HART through one of its many consulting firms. Swatta says he was dismissed after questioning procedures on costly change orders and delays.

“Owner-driven changes are always horrible,” Swatta said of the mounting post-contract costs, “once the contract is bid, the client changing their minds, adding more stuff.”….

Swatta says while construction prices have risen, an equal if not greater portion of the cost hikes come from bloated administrative procedures, shelved and redone designs, changes HART asks for after contracts are written, and big unresolved cost and timing issues like utilities and HECO matters.

All of these things are still driving the project toward what Swatta and other engineers are calling the $10 billion dollar price tag.

“Those in the industry truly feel that’s the right number,” Swatta said, “and worse is another 15 years to go.”

HART currently estimates completion by 2024….

In the latest federal report out just this week by the PMOC (project management oversight consultant) for the Federal Transit Administration, the reviewer does say more delays beyond 2024 are anticipated because of questions about the City Center section. The same report points out design changes are ahead, and that some may need environmental review.

A growing number of insiders are trying to call attention to what they feel is costly mismanagement. Some reach out in anonymity, asking for intervention. Workers fearing retaliation wrote the board previously pleading for attention to cost overruns, and even safety concerns. They warned months ago against the use of plastic shims on the guideway; it turns out that latest PMOC federal oversight report notes those have already begun to crack.

Another engineer says people fear speaking up. Bart Desai got the boot from his job for Honolulu rail with one of the consulting firms, he says after questioning changes and claims processes. Desai wrote a lengthy letter to HART and the FTA. He, too, sees the project topping $10 billion.

“Based on the past history and the way that management is reacting and managing the project, there’s no way it will stop here, it could go up more,” Desai told KHON2.

“There is a contract where there was a typo in one of the specifications, and reportedly the contractor already has a $12.5 million claim and the project hasn’t even started construction,” he said….

Desai alleges staff and consultants try to avoid board scrutiny by splitting up high cost items to get under the $1 million dollar threshold for board approval. Emails document how HART city staff wanted consultants to take a multimillion-dollar change and break it down to pieces under $1 million each to avoid board scrutiny, and even city staff saying HART’s deputy executive director was OK with that….

“It’s not over yet for HART. If they really look into this, they will find some areas, if not all, that can help them, not hurt them.”….

Full Text: HART Whistleblower: Sinking Columns, Cracked Welds, Useless Designs, and Structural Failures

read … Whistleblowers, ex-staff speak out on rail cost and delays

Robin Danner Group Calls on DHHL to Keep Al Hee’s Scam Company

SA: The (Danner-controlled) Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly have called on the PUC to recertify Sandwich Isles, and Sandwich Isles has also requested that the commission reconsider the issue of recertification….

The state attorney general and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands have hired a team of Washington, D.C., attorneys to sort out the legal tangle surrounding telecommunications company Sandwich Isles Communications. The company’s founder, Al Hee, was sent to prison after he was convicted of federal tax evasion earlier this year.

Sandwich Isles holds the exclusive license to provide telecommunications serv-ices on Hawaiian homelands, but the Federal Communications Commission last year suspended millions of dollars in federal subsidies to the company while it audits spending by Sandwich Isles.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands announced last year that Hee’s conviction had prompted a “review and assessment” by the department to determine whether Hee’s legal problems could affect services for homesteaders, but the department never made public the results of that review….

Hee, 62, was sentenced in January to 46 months in prison for seven federal tax convictions, and is being held at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Rochester Federal Medical Center in Minnesota….

read … Corruption

Ag changes coming

KGI: …Agriculture isn’t part of the community like it was 50 years ago, he said, and the public doesn’t understand the industry because the prevalence of farmers is dwindling.

“Previously, the farming community was the community, but that’s not so much the case anymore,” Uyehara said. “Most people will never interact in a direct way with a farmer.” ….

read … Ag changes coming

Renovation on state housing project slowed by construction problems

KHON: A state owned high-rise has been empty for close to two years and it could be at least another year before renovations are finished….

We found out residents were relocated free of charge by the state in early 2015 so that the 28-unit building at 2907 Ala Ilima Street could undergo renovations. But after about a year of construction, the project was put on hold.

Now it’s been 10 months since construction crews have been able to work on the building.

For close to a year, the project was moving forward as scheduled, but that’s when construction crews started to run into problems….

After testing the water pressure in the building and ripping out the drywall, crews found that the pipes running through the entire building weren’t up to code — not only that, further inspection showed issues with mold in some units….

The state said the final price tag of the remodel will come in at $5.7 million. Construction should start up by the end of the year, and according to the state, will take 10 to 12 months to finish….

($5.7M / 28 units = $203K per unit)

read … Usual Story

DoE Employee Caught Stealing (Again)

KHON: …Attorney General Doug Chin announced Friday that an Oahu grand jury indicted Ada T. Martin for stealing $37,156.31 during 2012-2014 from the school lunch program at Aliamanu Elementary School by manipulating the meal tracker computer program.

Martin is a 51-year-old Honolulu resident with a prior 1993 conviction for theft in the first degree. For her prior conviction, Martin was sentenced to 5 years probation, 100 hours of community service, and payment of $27,382 in restitution.

read … Another Day in the DoE

Prosecutor’s office declines to charge suspect with car theft, cites not enough evidence

KHON: …the victim — who did not want to be identified — showed us his car with the front passenger side still damaged. He says someone broke into his house on Saturday and stole his wallet, computer, car keys and his car. Police told him that the suspect also hit another car.

“The officer at the scene told me that the suspect was driving around the local police department there, taunting the police that he had a gun. He was apprehended and released the following Tuesday.”

Specifically, released with no charges.

“I was at a loss for words,” the victim said. “I don’t know what to think at this point. I tried to contact the prosecutor’s office and I had no response. They won’t return my phone calls.”

So we reached out to the prosecutor’s office and a spokesman said there was not enough evidence. He added that there were no witnesses or surveillance video and no fingerprints to implicate the suspect, plus there are no witnesses who can identify the suspect as the driver in the hit-and-run incident….

SA: Isle teens in trouble for violence blame ‘jacked up’ system for their own actions, Perfesser Agrees

read … Prosecutor’s office declines to charge suspect

Board will investigate shootings by officers of the law

SA: …Authorities say all police officers involved in the four fatal shootings of men on Hawaii island this year are back on active duty as investigations into the deaths wrap up.

Assistant Chief Henry Tavares said in an email that investigations into the shooting deaths of Ronald Barawis Jr. and Scottie Yanagawa have been forwarded to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for review. He said probes into the deaths of Kalyp Rapoza and BJ Medeiros remain ongoing, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.

The names of the officers won’t be disclosed unless they are charged in the shootings, which occurred in Hilo and Puna.

Starting in July, officer-involved shootings will be reviewed by an independent board administered by the state attorney general’s office as part of a new law approved this year.

“The intent of this bill is to make certain people have trust in the investigatory process and they feel that nothing’s being covered up or swept under the rug,” said Senate Vice President Will Espero, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The nine-member board will consist of a deputy attorney general; a former prosecutor or deputy prosecutor from each county; a retired state judge; a former police chief, deputy chief or sheriff; and two community members without law enforcement or criminal justice experience. The governor will appoint one of the community members, while all others will be appointed by the attorney general….

read … Investigate



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