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Tuesday, April 17, 2018
April 17, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 2941 Views

Kauai Flooding: Dozens Evacuated from Hanalei by Helicopter

Third Trip to DC--Will Honolulu Rail Fail?

CB: …Neither Caldwell, Martin nor Ozawa would comment about the meeting as they were leaving FTA offices in Washington, D.C. Caldwell said he would instead issue a written statement and Civil Beat reached Ozawa by phone later.

It’s the third time since the beginning of the year that city officials have travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the FTA.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz took part in the first half of Monday’s meeting before leaving for another scheduled engagement.

Other federal officials at the gathering included FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams and U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Transportation Policy Derek Kan.

Schatz told Civil Beat that the purpose of the meeting was to drive home the point to the FTA that the city will stick to the project despite changes in leadership, whether it’s at the council or inside the mayor’s office. Caldwell’s term is up in 2020, before the rail line is set to be completed.

“They read the headlines too,” Schatz said of the FTA. “It was important for us to convey to them directly that there was no change in the city’s commitment to the project.”

“The FTA still wants to finish this,” Schatz said. “I can’t speak for them. But it’s clear to me that they’re still deeply engaged. They’re transit people. They like to set up transit systems across the country. They have no desire to make this the first one that didn’t get off the ground.”

SA: Officials torn on how to get rail money

read … Honolulu Officials Promise Feds They’re On Board With Rail Money

What Honolulu Rail Officials Know They Don’t Know

CB: …Nobody has confidence in estimates of the project’s expense, which may be as much as $13 billion….

read … What Honolulu Rail Officials Know They Don’t Know

Sen. Donna Kim Leads Crowded Congressional Field In Fundraising

CB: …State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim continues to lead her opponents when it comes to raising campaign cash in the race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu.

According to the latest quarterly reports from the Federal Election Commission, Kim raised more than $228,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31, bringing her total haul in the race to about $400,000….

Among Kim’s donors are lobbyists, developers and government contractors, such as Bruce Coppa, Stanford Carr and Nan Chul Shin, of Nan Inc., one of the largest construction companies in the state and recipient of tens of millions of dollars in Honolulu rail contracts.

Kim has also received money from top political players and appointees, including current Senate President Ron Kouchi, former Honolulu Police Commissioner Cha Thompson and Randy Iwase, chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The late U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye’s former chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas, and her husband, John, of the law firm Carlsmith Ball, donated to Kim’s campaign as well.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin actually took in more money than Kim during the first quarter of 2018. From Jan. 1 to March 31, records show Martin’s campaign raised $267,000.

Like Kim, much of his money came from familiar sources. Coppa, Carr, Shin and Sabas all gave money to Martin’s campaign, as did Alicia Maluafiti, a well-known lobbyist who works on behalf of agribusiness and agri-chemical groups associated with Hawaii’s seed industry as well as animal rights issues.

He received thousands of dollars from major developers, contractors and other business interests, including Christopher Benjamin, president of the Alexander & Baldwin development company, and several executives working for the engineering firm Mitsunaga & Associates.

Real estate investor Donna Walden also donated to Martin’s campaign. Walden’s sale of an apartment complex to the city of Honolulu in 2015 has been the subject of a U.S. Justice Department grand jury investigation.

Lieutenant Gov. Doug Chin, who previously served as Gov. David Ige’s attorney general, raised nearly $220,000 in the first three months of the year.

Many of Chin’s donors are lawyers. Among them are Paul Alston and Peter Carlisle, who Chin worked for when Carlisle was Honolulu’s mayor.

Chin also received donations from Jennifer and John Sabas and Honolulu police commissioners Loretta Sheehan, a former federal prosecutor, and Steven Levinson, a former associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court….

(There are some other people running but they are doomed anyway so we’ll just skip them….)

read … Sen. Donna Kim Leads Crowded Congressional Field In Fundraising

Why housing is so expensive in Hawaii - regulatory bureaucracy

SA: (Fresh off their ‘Monster Home’ ban, the Star-Advertiser editors are now campaigning to tear down a newly-built house on Date St….)

…Securing a building permit from the city can test one’s patience. The process, which includes an increasing amount of regulatory hoop-jumping, sometimes prompts attention to unforeseen details — and additional hoops. And the wait time, while Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) staff size up an application, can be excruciating for applicants who see a permit as a catalyst to a money-making venture.

The city has a history of gentle handling of questionable activity by property owners and builders who violate the application process — whether due to sheer impatience or unscrupulous practices. DPP focuses on finding ways to make a violator come into compliance with zoning and building laws with fines and after-the-fact inspections, among other carrot-stick tactics….,

a building permit application was submitted in November 2016. But DPP is still waiting for the applicant to jump through at least a few regulatory hoops before it can wrap up processing. DPP Acting Director Kathy Sokugawa said last week: “We need to see some progress. … Hopefully, they’ll get a building permit soon.” If not, the matter will be forwarded to city attorneys.

Seventeen months is a long time to wrestle with an application process. The wait time is exacerbated, in part, by an increase in government agencies — federal, state and city — asking to review for compliance with their rules….

Best Comment: “It shouldn't take 17 months to get a permit.”

SA: Raze unpermitted home, says councilman 

Big Q: Should the city get more authority to tear down structures that are built despite a stop-work order and without a building permit?

read … Incompetence

Hanalei Flooding: Ecos Go for Ban on Rebuilding Wrecked TVRs

CB: …Weke Road is the road that defines the beachfront both socially and economically, and has long been a symbol of the incredible affluence that has made Hanalei, increasingly, a place few regular people can afford to live.

The water destroyed the underpinnings of several multi-million-dollar homes right next to Hanalei Pier, leaving them splintered wrecks, sitting on their foundations like deflated tires, according to firefighters and local residents who were in Hanalei.

There has been controversy over these homes for several years because of the cesspools that many of them are hooked up to. As the vacation rental economy has boomed, and the homes have been inhabited more and more by vacationers, those cesspools, which leach effluent under the sand of Hanalei Beach, have come to define Weke Road.

But when the nonprofit Hanalei Watershed Hui obtained state and federal grant money to offer owners of up to 75 homes half the cost of replacing their cesspools with sophisticated septic systems, there were only one or two takers — so few that the offer was eventually rescinded by the government.

…The damage to many of the homes poses the question whether Kauai County can even permit the structures to be rebuilt, given what is now known about the instability of Weke Road geology….

SA: See our photo gallery for more images of flooding on Kauai.

read … Hanalei

Local Meteorologist Fails to Blame Global Warming for Kauai Floods

HNN: …From Friday to Sunday, there was cold air aloft from an upper level disturbance to the northwest, deep tropical moisture to the southeast, and instability within the trade wind flow.

It is hard to know the track or intensity of these individual cells especially since Hawaii is surrounded by a vast ocean. Many times, these ingredients can be present, but the development may stay over the ocean and not impact the islands.

Over the weekend, it all came together directly over the islands with the most intense rain impacting windward neighborhoods due to the wind flow. The trade winds acted like a conveyor belt — bringing a steady source of moisture Hawaii's way.

Then on top of that, the island terrain played a role in slowing these individual thunderstorms down, almost acting like a speed bump. There were about three back-to-back individual thunderstorms that developed over the north shore of Kauai.

These were associated with strong updrafts that were anchored to the terrain and the torrential rain was stationary for hours.

Hawaii streams and drainage systems cannot handle rainfall rates of three to five feet per hour.

Sadly, this led to the record rainfall seen on both Kauai and Oahu.

read … Blasphemer!

Mindless Ignorance: Oahu court invalidates state-issued permits to collect tropical fish in wild

MN: …The 1st Circuit Court on Oahu, which was sitting as the Environmental Court, ruled Thursday that the 131 statewide permits are invalid. Each of the permits authorized the capture of almost 2,000 fish, for about 250,000 fish per year (IQ Test: How small a number is this compared to the number of target species on Hawaii reefs?), according to an announcement from Earthjustice’s Mid-Pacific Office, the nonprofit law firm representing the plaintiffs, including Umberger (who represents dive-tour operators, ie the tourism industry).

There are no state recreational aquarium collection permits issued for Maui County, said state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesman Dan Dennison. And, overall, there is no significant aquarium collection in Maui or Kauai counties, according to information from the department.

Umberger added that Maui County saw many, if not all, of its commercial aquarium fish collectors leave the island and head to Hawaii island when a county law was enacted around eight years ago that requires any commercial aquarium collectors to have a county permit. County Communications Director Rod Antone said no one had taken out a commercial permit since the permit requirement was established.

“That basically shut down the legal commercial guys on Maui,” Umberger said.

But, she said some fish collected from the wild have been known to show up for sale. And yet, a history of aquarium fish collecting has greatly affected marine life in Maui County waters, Umberger said.  (IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

She heads the nonprofit For the Fishes, which aims to, among other things, enhance legal protections for coral reef wildlife….

The West Hawaii Today newspaper reported recently that the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council has applied for the draft environmental assessment. It anticipates a finding of no significant environmental impact from the fish-collecting practice around Oahu and Hawaii island. To view the documents, visit LINK.

Members of the public have until May 8 to comment on the draft environmental assessment….

read … Tourism Industry Destroys Another Non-Tourist element of Economy

Trump administration defends Obama's Atlantic monument

AP: …Government attorneys point to several marine monuments near Hawaii that presidents have previously created under the Antiquities Act: the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.

Last year, the Trump administration launched a review of national monuments, national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.

That ongoing review includes the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and Rose Atoll Maine National Monument, which encompasses 13,451 square miles of ocean waters and 10 islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.

read … Trump administration defends Obama's Atlantic monument

SpinLaunch Scam faces criticism during informational session in Naalehu

WHT: …A video by Big Island Video News shows dozens of residents responding with derision or anger to the representatives’ remarks throughout the meeting. Among their criticisms include its presumption in using Ka‘u land without the approval of its residents, the danger it poses to cultural landmarks and indigenous fauna in the process, without ever communicating with residents and the implications of storing rocket fuel in a Lava Zone 2 area — although SpinLaunch claims to be able to launch satellites without requiring rockets.

However, the two affirmed that construction would not go ahead without community support.

“We are not going to come to a community that doesn’t want us,” Hampton said. Several attendees responded with raised hands to confirm they did not want SpinLaunch in the area…..

VIDEO: Residents Lash Out During SpinLaunch Meeting

read … Good Work

How Criminals are Recruited to Sovereignty Movement

TJ: …“I didn’t know who I was,” explained David, reflecting on his time prior to Saguaro. “You need to know your culture,” he added, a sentiment that was shared by other inmates in the prison in the documentary.

Connecting and understanding one’s culture does more than just establish an identity, it connects one to a community and a historical legacy, the documentary suggests. Hale, another prisoner released from Saguaro, recounted that on the first day he was brought to the facility, he was taught the Ha’a Koa, a traditional type of Hawaiian Dance that represents the Dance of the Warrior, by the Ka’iana, the cultural advisor. Hale described the way he “was instantly drawn to the chant” involved in the dance.

He realized that “he would not have learned that if [he] wasn’t [sic]in prison,” and began to ask why he had not been  exposed to his culture before. In his reflection, he noted that he “used to take from people; but the more [I] understood my culture, the more I understood myself,” asserting, “First and foremost, I am Hawaiian.”

Inside the Arizona prison, the film notes that the inmates were separated based on their indigenous heritage. In one of the first interactions in the film, prison guards only permitted David to reside with Native Hawaiians, keeping other Native American prisoners separated from the Native Hawaiian prisoners.

The film also sheds light on the difficulties faced by former inmates trying to rejoin the working class outside of prison and establish a new life. After being institutionalized for a significant portion of their lives, they struggled to find jobs and had difficulty supporting their families, despite being willing and determined to become mentors for their community. …

read … Criminals

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