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Thursday, October 4, 2018
October 4, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:52 PM :: 3547 Views

Caldwell Appoints Chief for Troubled Joint Traffic Management Center

Fastest-Growing Cities in America--Honolulu 308th

Pearl City: Lowest Percentage of Disabled in Poverty in USA

Hirono: FBI Investigation a 'Farce'

OHA hires new Chief Operating Officer

‘Big, Big Problem’ -- City can’t meet FTA deadline for rail funds

SA: …The city cannot meet a Federal Transit Administration deadline to provide $44 million to help fund construction of the Honolulu rail project, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he plans to ask for an extension.

Late last month, the FTA asked the city to provide the funding to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation by Nov. 20. But Caldwell said the logistics of issuing bonds to borrow the money will prevent the city from meeting that deadline.

“That is a big problem, and one that HART is going to have to address with the FTA,” Caldwell said during a discussion with the HART board Sept. 27.

On Tuesday, he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that February is the earliest the city could provide the money to HART — “if we started today.”….

Nelson Koyanagi, director of the city’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, said city officials plan to issue about $400 million in general obligation bonds for rail early next year. That would provide the rail authority with the $44 million as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding to ensure HART has enough cash to pay its bills.

Bond floats of that size normally require three to four months of preparation, including meetings with the city’s bond counsel and the rating agencies that assess the city’s creditworthiness, he said.

Last year the city issued $350 million in general obligation bonds and another $100 million in short-term debt known as “commercial paper” to help HART with its cash flow, Koyanagi said.

HART is responsible for repaying all of that money with interest, and also will be responsible for repaying all of the money raised in the upcoming bond float, except for the $44 million. The city administration will be required to repay that amount, marking the first time city funds have been committed to rail construction….

Background: Rail in Default? Feds Give HART 60-Day Warning

read … City can’t meet FTA deadline for rail funds

Rail’s Public-Private Partnership Idea Is A Desperate Cry For Help

CB: … First, rail is under great time pressure from the feds, as well as the general public, to get the job done.

“Just smear the lipstick on that pig already and be done with it” has become a weird but more or less holding political consensus.

• Second, it appears that the feds are getting so tired of HART’s delays and non-responses that they are about as close to setting a firm deadline as any government organization whose job is to give away money is likely ever to be.

• Third, there are no other politically feasible state or local funding sources. None. If the mayor tries to ask the Legislature for more bucks, he should be prepared to see a big “Bite Me!” sign hanging from the Capitol rotunda on the first day of the next session.

And an increase in Oahu property tax to pay for it?  That’s the mayor’s threat, but also his political nightmare.

Looked at another way, this might actually represent one of the city’s few bargaining chips: the fact that there’s a certain amount of money available for the private partner, so take it or leave it.

Unfortunately, “take it or leave it” works best when it comes from a position of strength.

• Fourth, whether or not this HART board and this HART CEO are better than the previous ones, HART is essentially an organization with a bad history that is moving with no experience into uncharted territory.

• Fifth, in the past, HART’s agreements have too often been a combination of vagueness and magical thinking that have come back to bite us in the — to use a rail term — caboose. There has been a disconcerting amount of this when it comes to the city’s relationship with the unhappy builder of the rail project’s trains and nerve center, Ansaldo Honolulu.

• Sixth, Ansaldo is already locked in a dispute with HART over construction delays, and the company appears to have been promised a key role in operating rail. Whoops.

read … Rail’s Public-Private Partnership Idea Is A Desperate Cry For Help

DoE: Bullying, Sex Harassment to be Classed With Assault, Burglary and Possession of a Firearm

CB: … The Hawaii Department of Education is proposing elevating bullying and harassment by students in middle and high school levels to the most serious class of violations listed in its student misconduct code.

The proposal is part of the latest recommendations the DOE will present to the Board of Education on Thursday as it works to strengthen policies relating to student misconduct to comply with a 2017 resolution agreement with the federal government.

Reclassifying bullying as a Class A offense rather than a Class B offense for students in grades 7 to 12 is among the most aggressive of the DOE’s latest proposals around this issue. It also proposes elevating student-on-student sexual harassment in grades 5 and higher to Class A.

This means those actions will be treated, on paper, in the same vein as student violations like assault, burglary and possession of a firearm. Although the Department of Education does not mandate specific school-based penalties for Class A or B offenses, the action could give school leaders more room to impose harsher punishments, like suspension or expulsion….

LINK: BoE Oct 4 Meeting

read … Hawaii DOE Wants To Classify Bullying At Highest Offense Level

Enviros Order Schatz to Stick it to Matson

CB: …In April, Senate Democrats in Washington blocked legislation that would have exempted cargo ships and other vessels that discharge their ballast water into the ocean from Clean Water Act oversight and other state regulations meant to prevent the spread of potentially harmful organisms.

The legislation initially had bipartisan support, including from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who was a co-sponsor of the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. It would have created a single federal standard overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard rather than the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental groups, as well as 10 attorneys general from Maine to California, were worried at the time about the proposed regulations, saying the bill was an attempt by industry lobbyists to dismantle rules that protect the country’s waters from the “scourge of invasive species.”

Ships take on ballast water as a means to maintain stability and balance. But when a vessel fills its ballast tank with water, particularly from the ocean around the ship, it can also pick up plants and animals. This is often how invasive species are spread....

CB: Ballast Discharge Measure Won’t Protect Hawaii’s Coastal Waters

read … Hawaii In The Thick Of DC Battle Over Ballast Water Dumping

Voters Need To Know Sooner Who’s Paying To Influence Them

CB: The Legislature should require greater transparency for campaign finance reports. Right now candidates don’t have to file them until eight days before the election….

read … Voters Need To Know Sooner Who’s Paying To Influence Them

Honolulu City Council wants to investigate building permit delays

PBN …Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine introduced Resolution 18-208 on Thursday. The resolution, which would establish a group to investigate the delays in the permitting process by the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting, is listed on the City Council’s agenda for Wednesday as new business.

The resolution cites “regular complaints from constituents and developers that the building permit process at the Department of Planning and Permitting is cumbersome and lengthy …” and says the DPP has told the Council that the recent attention to so-called “monster homes” has slowed down the permit process and that the department has been struggling to hire additional staff to cut down on the delays.

Pine told Pacific Business News that she’s “had it with the excuses.”

“We have to look at solutions,” she said. “We hope to narrow down what the real problems are.”….

Clue: “HGEA”

read … Honolulu City Council wants to investigate building permit delays

Council passes bills requiring studies before homeless encampment crackdowns

KHON: …"Even though the City Council passed bills 51 and 52, they did not delink the need for a comprehensive homeless study before enforcement begins. Even with my signature, enforcement will be delayed. The public is crying out for help in clearing sidewalks for their own safety."—Caldwell…

read … Council passes bills requiring studies before homeless encampment crackdowns

Maui Psycho Killer Was Released from Lunatic Asylum Just before Rampage

MN: …A woman acquitted of murder by reason of insanity poses a “moderate to high risk” of danger to herself or others and has a history of “poor decisions,” including not checking herself into a hospital psychiatric ward the night before she caused a crash that killed two women, a psychologist testified Wednesday.

After meeting with Ashley Wellman and reviewing records in her case, psychologist George Choi said his opinion was that she should be committed to the state health director for treatment “for an indeterminate amount of time” before she can be discharged into the community.

He said Wellman has been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that are “pretty severe.”

“She’s been struggling with that for a long time,” Choi said.” Historically, she’s shown that she made some poor decisions. Some of those decisions led, in this case, to some really tragic consequences.”

(Really Obvious Question: Why is a lunatic allowed to make decisions?)

He said records showed Wellman had sought help from Kaiser Behavioral Health on the three days before the fatal collision. The night before the crash, she reported she had planned to check herself into the Molokini Ward at Maui Memorial Medical Center….

read … Expert: Defendant ‘moderate to high risk’ of danger

Hawaii County Council says no to bill for helping businesses affected by lava

HTH: …The resolution, introduced by Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, would have provided commercial properties in the two villages a break on their property taxes through the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

read … Hawaii County Council says no to bill for helping businesses affected by lava

Easy Doctor Shopping Needed to Suicide Expensive Patients

CB: …An advisory group has been formed to help the Department of Health organize the process so eligible residents will have appropriate, timely and seamless access to medical aid in dying if they so choose and meet the strict criteria.

I am honored to be a part of this advisory group as a non-medical representative of the community. One of my roles is to report back to the group the concerns and questions that Hawaii residents have about medical aid in dying.

I have had conversations with many people. Several have expressed concerns that their request to use medical aid in dying, even if approved, might be delayed. They worry that as their disease progresses and their ability to function lessens, delays in the medical aid-in-dying process will take away their choice, and that they will find the option they were counting on had evaporated because of these delays. Some were concerned that well-meaning medical professionals might try to “talk them out” of their choice to use medical aid in dying.

We can only imagine how this could be devastating to patients and their families who are looking for a sense of comfort, choice and control in their final time of life. They were expecting to choose when, where and how they would die, but instead this choice is taken away from them. The intent of the Our Choice, Our Act will not be realized for these people.

Others have similar concerns. They hope that if their doctor declines to participate in the process, there will be a timely referral made to another physician who will work with the patient following the procedures set out in the law. With a potential six months or less to live, it’s important that hospitals and clinics create internal referral procedures, so the wishes of the patient are honored and not delayed. For a patient with a terminal prognosis, the clock is ticking.

The advisory group also has representatives from the medical community and hospice organizations. The meetings have been productive. The issues of medical provider training and streamlining the process of obtaining a prescription are being thoroughly discussed. The Hawaii Department of Health is using this input to ensure access to medical aid in dying is available on Jan. 1.

read … The Need For Timely Access To Medical Aid In Dying

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