Oahu Homeless Count Up—Sister Isles Down
Oahu Neighborhood Board Elections: 15,500 votes cast so far
Will Criminal Activity at OHA Ever Stop?
The Right to Couch Surf: Home-sharing in Hawaii
Federal organic fraud in America
Political Correctness: Conformity or Electrocution on the Waterfront
Is Hawaii Open Primary Unconstitutional? SCOTUS May Decide
HART Comes up with New Scare Tactic After Federal Deadline Passes
HNN: If there is no agreement to fund the Honolulu rail transit project in place by July, federal funds meant to be put toward its construction will continue to be withheld by the U.S. government, according to testimony by rail officials during a Honolulu City Council meeting on Wednesday.
HART's interim director, Krishniah Murthy, told councilmembers during the meeting that he recently had to ask the Federal Transit Administration for an extension to come up with a new plan to pay for the system.
"They did not say no to our request, that we will submit our financial plans after all of the legislative actions, so I will assume that they will give us that time," Murthy said. …
When HART filed a recovery plan with the administration last month, they left out the portion that included financial information, electing to wait until state lawmakers had approved a solution….
During Wednesday's meeting, the council also squashed discussion – for now – on plans to use increased property taxes to pay for rail construction.
Councilmembers decided to defer the measure until state legislators can hold a special session to decide how to fund the project – either by extending the general excise tax or increasing the transient accommodations tax.
If neither measure passes, the city says it would need to raise property taxes by 13 to 15 percent in order to afford rail construction…..
read … Feds could withhold construction funds if rail has no financial solution by July
Homeless Count Inaccurate?
MN: …Monique Yamashita, the executive director of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, questioned the accuracy of the homeless numbers for Maui, saying that her agency had a waiting list for shelter in all of 2016.
“We had a wait list that was very long last year,” she said, while adding that Ka Hale A Ke Ola was improving in getting people out of the shelter and transitional housing and into permanent homes.
That came after the agency adopted the “housing first” philosophy and stopped requiring people to take drug tests or be clean and sober as of Feb. 1.
“We lowered our barriers,” she said. “We’re a low-barrier shelter now.”
Ka Hale A Ke Ola can house 450 people in emergency shelter and transitional housing, she said.
Now, her agency aims to have people in and out of the shelter and into housing within 90 days, she said.
But, as for the “Point in Time” count, Yamashita said: “Many in the field believe the counts are far underestimated as the actual number of people experiencing homelessness is difficult to count. It’s a ‘hit or miss’ count.”
For example, during the week of the count for unsheltered individuals, “there may be individuals sleeping in their cars or doubling up with other families (considered at-risk for homelessness). If you can see them, you can count them. If it was raining on the day specified . . . the homeless may be sheltered away from their normal place to dwell.”
She said that the census is a “really great tool” to set a minimum number of homeless people, “but certainly not exhaustive or truly accurate. It does help us to know a ballpark figure of the homeless situation.” …
Morishige said that the homeless population can be difficult to find and pin down.
Morishige said he visited Maui about a year ago and was taken to a homeless encampment “1 to 2 miles into the bush” in Central Maui. And, he said, there wasn’t just one camp. There were camps in Kahului, Wailuku and Lahaina “far in the bush.”
He said he was told, “Take your hiking boots.”
Homeless people are in places “not highly visible to the public,” he said.
The camps are isolated, and “you’d not see it unless you went looking for it.”….
read … Accurate?
Homeless Shelters Report Most Vacancies in 5 Years
HTH: …Brandee Menino, CEO of HOPE Services Hawaii, agreed there’s still a long way to go but added based on her research, the PIT Count numbers released Wednesday stand up to the scrutiny. In fact, the progress may even be greater than the state’s report indicates.
“Actually, our database we are working on now that the entire community uses is showing even less homeless people than what’s in the report,” she said. “Our trends really are decreasing.”
Menino said 617 individuals in Hawaii County either moved directly off the street or out of emergency shelters into permanent housing last year. She added 58 families found housing through Section 8 vouchers, 45 families got off the street via federally funded tenant-based rental assistance, and the micro housing units built in the Old Industrial Area pulled 23 people out of homelessness.
Because of permanent housing options the emergency shelters at HOPE actually have around 10 vacancies, and she said she’s advised Mayor Harry Kim that there is inventory to help move homeless out of public areas and into shelters.
“What we’ve been seeing the last few months is actually less usage of the shelter than we’ve ever seen in the last five years,” Menino said.
read … Vacant?
Star-Adv: Marijuana Sales need to maintain Veneer of Medicality
SA: In the 17 years that have passed since state lawmakers gave the go-ahead to create Hawaii’s medical marijuana registry, the law and related rules have been tweaked several times. The latest round: House Bill 1488, an omnibus measure that aims to smooth out some rough edges in the state’s program as it preps for the long-awaited opening of dispensaries.
Last week the bill, which adds qualifying medical conditions to the patient roster and permits possession of additional plants, among other changes, was sent to Gov. David Ige. The governor should sign HB 1488, since it anticipates potential snags and will help the program run efficiently.
However, in written testimony, the state Department of Health rightly pointed out that given the Trump administration’s mixed signals about whether it intends to crack down on the thriving recreational marijuana industry, the state should “take heed not to dilute its current robust regulatory system to the point where the medical marijuana program begins to resemble a recreational marijuana program.”
Recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states, and 28 states have various medical marijuana programs…..
read … Medicated, LOL!
Last minute amendment blocks council from voting on Honolulu's plastic bag ban
HNN: …Honolulu city council members planned to vote on whether to repeal or replace the ban on Wednesday. However, a last minute amendment by Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga put that vote on hold.
Councilwoman Fukunaga's resolution would repeal the plastic bag ban altogether and allow retailers to offer whatever kind of bag they want as long, as they charge a 10-cent fee.
Fukunaga’s amendment included an auditor's study to see the effects of the 10-cent fee. In addition, she is calling for stronger enforcement of Honolulu’s litter laws….
Councilmembers will take up the vote at their next meeting in June.
SA: Bill to require fees for single-use bags deferred
read … Just Another Tax Hike
Hawaii Legislature reduces funding for High Technology Development Corp.'s matching grant program
PBN: …HTDC’s SBIR grant program, which offers matching grants to businesses that receive national Phase II and Phase III SBIR grants, will receive $1 million in funding this year, $1 million less than last year.
“With the Phase II and III grants, we need to regroup to see what needs to be done. We don’t want to change the payments too much,” Melton said. “The point is to help companies get stronger funding to move into the market faster.”
For HTDC’s manufacturing grants program, it will receive $1 million, the same amount as last year. Melton says she was hoping for $1.5 million for the grant program, which distributes funds to Hawaii manufacturers….
read … Hawaii Legislature reduces funding for High Technology Development Corp.'s matching grant program
‘Clean’ Energy Tries New Trick: Low Teaser Rates
HTH: Harold Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, Hu Honua’s parent company, said Hu Honua is proposing to sell electricity to HELCO at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour to start.
“I’m pretty sure it’s one of the lowest, if not the lowest, price offered by a standalone renewable project right now out in the market,” Robinson said Wednesday. He added any price changes over time will be tied to the nation’s gross domestic product (with what multiplier???).
(Translation: That $0.08 per kwh won’t last for long, suckers!)
Ignacio said the contract terms are being run through a computer simulation model to determine if the proposed deal is a good one. (The computer began spitting out quarters.)
“In this case, it’s a proposed 30-year contract. That takes awhile,” Ignacio said…..
A hearing is set for 10 a.m. May 22 on a HELCO motion for dismissal of the suit and an order to compel arbitration of all claims, and a settlement conference also is scheduled for May 18 and 19, according to court records….
read … Tease
Negligent homicide investigations can take months, even years with few going to trial
KHON: …According to HPD, in 2014, 43 negligent homicide cases were opened, and there were only three arrests that year. In 2015, 20 cases were opened, and only six people were arrested. In 2016, they opened 15 negligent homicide cases, and 17 people were arrested, with the reason being that sometimes arrests can come months or even years later.
Even after police do their investigation, not all cases go to trial. The prosecutor’s office can decline to move a case forward….
In May 2015, Vince Kalaola hit a 57-year-old woman and her 13-year-old granddaughter while they were walking along Farrington Highway. Kalaola drove off, and the woman was dead by the time help arrived. He was sentenced to a month in jail.
“We’ve got to get stricter on the law, on negligence, because you make choices,” Ed Werner said. “What’s the difference between when you’re using a car to kill somebody or using a gun? It’s the same thing, a deadly weapon.”
In comparison, murder carries a sentence of up to life in prison, and manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 20 years….
WHT: Woman charged with negligent homicide for highway accident
read … Negligent
Incompetent Caldwell Admin. Blames Military for Abandoned Vehicles
HNN: The city towed some 1,600 abandoned cars in 2016. However, that number is decreasing this year because space to put the abandoned vehicles is running out.
The city believes a major contributor to the problem is the military.
About 300 abandoned vehicles currently on tow lots around Oahu were traced to military personnel who left the island, leaving their vehicles behind and creating storage issues for towing companies.
"We've met with the military because we want them to know don't abandon your cars on public property," said Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Department of Customer Services….
(Suggestion: Park them on the railroad tracks.)
read … City, tow companies say there's no more room for abandoned vehicles
Kauai hosts GOP state convention
KGI: Over 375 Hawaii delegates are expected to cast their votes for the GOP’s state chairs and officers on Saturday.
The Kauai Republican Party will be hosting the 2017 Hawaii Republican Party State Convention at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort on Friday and Saturday.
Rep. Andria Tupola (D-43), Republican minority leader for the Legislature, and Shirlene Dela Cruz will vie for state chair….
Early registration, $75, for the convention on Saturday begins at 7:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast. It will be held in the Jasmine Ballroom and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 593-8180.
read … Kauai hosts GOP state convention