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Sunday, November 4, 2018
November 4, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:37 PM :: 2742 Views

It’s Real Property Because We Said So!

Rail: Ansaldo seeking $200M over rail delays

SA:  The contractor tasked with building the rail cars and installing the driverless operating system for the Honolulu rail line is seeking about $200 million in damages from the city for costs associated with delays in development of the project, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.

The delay claim by Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture was previously described as “mega-substantial” by Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board member Ember Shinn, but HART officials have refused to say how much the contractor is seeking because the city is still trying to settle the claim.

The city and Ansaldo signed a $1.4 billion “core-systems” contract in 2011, the largest contract in city history….

The rail authority included money to settle Ansaldo’s delay claim in its financial plan, according to HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins, but he refused to say how much money was set aside because the matter is still being negotiated.

The claim was filed about 20 months ago, but Robbins and a spokeswoman for Ansaldo both said they hope to resolve the issue by the end of the year.

Holley C. Morgan, media contact for Ansaldo, said in a written statement “we are meeting regularly with HART to reach an agreement and plan to do so before end of year, even if we have different positions.”

Ansaldo has been unable to install the equipment necessary to operate the rail system on the guideway because much of the guideway hasn’t been built yet. However, Robbins said Ansaldo has a duty under its contract to try to mitigate problems associated with delays.

“The issue that is not completely agreed yet between the parties is, did Ansaldo afford themselves every opportunity to mitigate the construction delays?” Robbins said. “Did they do everything they needed to do that was under their control that they were not delayed on while they were delayed in other areas?”…

Sept 7, 2018: Honolulu rail contractor seeks ‘mega-substantial’ settlement over construction delays

read … Ansaldo seeking $200M over rail delays

By Thumbing Nose at Auditor, HART Alienates Legislature

SA Editorial: …The relationship between state lawmakers and officials overseeing the construction of the city’s rail project has been anything but filled with warmth and trust. The general public also has vented its frustration about the fiscally troubled enterprise, now estimated to cost nearly $9 billion.

There are lots of reasons for that but, spinning this saga forward, Honolulu has now reached the point at which replenishing the coffers of goodwill is crucial, especially at this sensitive juncture.

The audit of the project, now underway, is a viable route for providing clarity about what problems have caused costs to escalate radically, and transparency about the way construction funding has been managed….

Kondo has asserted that the authority took months to respond to some inquiries, which cut into the time the auditor has for analysis, citing two cases in which specific documents could not be found….

there is a simmering dispute over access to the HART board’s unredacted minutes from its executive sessions. Chairman Damien Kim has said, on advice from corporation counsel, that the board decided to withhold these due to the confidential nature of some of the content.

Kondo has countered that this is unusual in the conduct of an audit, adding that private matters can be redacted from the final report at the request of the agency.

Further, he has complained that HART’s policy of having its own recordings of interviews conducted for the audit is intimidating staffers from making full disclosures….

The audit was a legislative mandate, Kondo has a job to do — and taxpayers legislators want him to do it, especially on something this consequential (that takes property tax money away from its rightful owners, the unions)…. 

Big Q: How should the city pay for its precedent-setting OK of $44 million for rail-building operations? 59% say “reopen budget to tighten/cut”

Grassroot: City Council broke its promise on rail 

CB: We Should Be Angry About Rail’s Broken Promises

read … Auditor will need more HART info

2020: Pine, Anderson Already Raising Money for Mayoral Campaigns

Borreca: …on to 2020. Mayor Kirk Caldwell is term-limited so can’t run for re-election. Also termed out of their City Council jobs in two years are Kymberly Pine and Ikaika Anderson. They both see themselves running the city and have devoted much of the last year to raising money to make the wish come true. Both have held five fundraisers apiece with “mayor” filled in for “The office sought.” Anderson has raised $520,216 and Pine picked up $344,725…..

read … After dull 2018 election, get ready for lively 2020 race, mainly for mayor

Shapiro: Death of GOP Makes Election Pointless, Need Shift to ‘Top Two’ Runoff System

Shapiro: …As I studied my absentee mail-in ballot, there were few competitive races or meaningful decisions to make.

Gov. David Ige and his running mate, Josh Green, are shoo-ins against the Republican team of Andria Tupola and Marissa Kerns, who have embarrassed themselves and their party by fighting each other more than the Democrats….

There’s a fix for this if we care about putting some beef on the general election menu: Adopt a “top two” primary election like California’s in which candidates for each office from all parties run in a single primary, with the top two vote-getters — no matter which parties they come from — running off in the general election.

It would force Hawaii Republicans to work smarter (Wrong: It will just keep Republicans off the General Election ballot.  All the ‘force’ that can be applied already has been.), encourage Democratic newcomers to challenge party incumbents (which is why the Lege will not support this) and open possibilities for the smaller parties, independents and nonpartisans.

Many general election races might feature two Democrats at first, but at least the decision on who gets our highest offices would be made by well over 400,000 voters who turn out for the general election instead of barely half that many who vote in the Democratic primary (And why would Democrats want to dilute their influence in this way?)….

read … Volcanic Ash: Let’s breathe some energy into voting

Maui Council: Anti-GMO Activists Leave Trail of Chaos, Criminality

MN: …“the most dysfunctional council we’ve ever had.”….

“I saw/heard cat calls from the audience, people calling out who they thought should be the council chair,” she said. “They became more unruly as the ‘Ohana Coalition members kept making motions for their members to become chair, even though they clearly did not have the requisite five votes. To me, they made a mockery of the process.”…

“Inexperience and incivility led to chaos and mass confusion,”…./

“The way they speak to one another is, to me, unacceptable,” she said, calling council members’ interactions “very disrespectful and not even cordial.”….

The Maui News invited Atay, 64, of Waihee, to do a sit-down or telephone interview as he completes his freshman term and seeks re-election to the council’s Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency seat. On Wednesday, he declined in an emailed message.

It said: “Given the defamatory statements The Maui News continues to print, I will be passing on any sit down or telephone interview with you. However, if you would like to write a fair story on the election contest and would like to understand and/or integrate my platform and answers, then please do email them today.”

The Maui News declined to submit emailed questions to Atay, as it did with his legislative and policy analyst, Trinette Furtado, a candidate for the council’s Makawao-Haiku-Paia residency seat. After a request for emailed questions was refused, Furtado was interviewed by phone for a feature story on her race against former Council Member Mike Molina.

The Maui News interviewed all other candidates for council by phone or in person.

Atay did not specify what “defamatory statements” he was referring to, but The Maui News has been covering at least three controversies that have overshadowed his campaign.

One has been the cloud that hangs over Atay from the actions and behavior of his executive assistant Brian Bardellini. The aide was barred from the seventh floor of the county building — where there are the offices of Council Services and the County Clerk — because of violations of the county workplace violence policy.

Bardellini also was awarded a $100,000 county grant for events honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu’s 250th birthday in March. A council committee has been reviewing the matter, and last month the Office of Economic Development began accepting invoices from unpaid vendors who provided goods and services for events. Also last month, the county terminated the contract award to Bardellini and withheld $46,000 in payments because of reports of unpaid vendors from funds already disbursed.

Another matter was the state Campaign Spending Commission’s levy of a $2,700 fine on the Atay campaign and the candidate for violating campaign spending laws, including two counts of unauthorized handling of campaign funds.

The commission found that Atay and Bardellini wrote checks from the campaign account when Hawaii law permits only the campaign’s treasurer and deputy treasurer to receive contributions or incur expenditures of campaign funds.

And, the commission charged Atay with five counts of making false reports, noting inconsistencies between bank records and reports filed by Atay with the commission.

On Friday, commission general counsel Gary Kam said there still was no response from Atay to the commission’s complaints. Commission officials have said Atay will have to clear his complaints to take office if he wins the race.

And last month, Mayor Arakawa filed two complaints against Atay with the county Board of Ethics. One was for listing his council office on a political ad, and the other was for sending a mass email to county employees that Arakawa called “clearly a political attack.”

The campaign ad that appeared in the Sept. 30 Maui Fair tabloid in The Maui News featured Atay’s County Council address, and not his campaign address. The County Charter requires that election activities be separate from a County Council member’s official government duties. Confusion over the mailing address in the ad, which was approved by Atay’s campaign prior to publication, resulted in part from communications with The Maui News Advertising Department from Atay’s council email address….

read … From the couch to the campaign trail, Lee challenges Atay

Maui County awaits appeal of timeshare tax ruling

MN: …A lawsuit that could cost Maui County $34 million in property tax refunds is now before the state Intermediate Court of Appeals, county officials confirmed last week….

The lawsuit is against the county and the County Council over establishing the timeshare category, which has had the highest tax rate. Currently, the rate for timeshares is $15.41 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation. It is followed by hotel and resort properties, which are taxed at $9.37. Homeowners pay the lowest at $2.85.

The county and the council sought to establish the timeshare class and rate to eliminate tax disparities in Maui’s visitor industry between hotels and timeshares, according to court documents.

In his March ruling, Cahill said that, under the Maui County Code, the county may create property tax classifications based only on differences in the use of real property. The code says there is no distinction in the actual use of hotels and timeshares, “because it defines that use in identical terms,” Cahill wrote….

White said that years ago when he worked on Hawaii island, he knew a man who owned a hotel in Waikiki who went from selling prepaid vacations to converting his property to a timeshare.

The man told White that more money could be made by selling the rooms as a timeshare rather than a regular hotel room sale because he could avoid general excise and transient accommodations taxes….

read … County awaits appeal of timeshare tax ruling

Sovereignty Activists Block Entrance to Barking Sands, Demand Money

HNN: …The protesters say the military should pay rent to help the native people….

read … Greenmail

Feds target Big Island police officer in beating death investigation

HNN: … In court filings, the Federal Public Defenders Office said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has issued a target letter to Luke Watkins, a 13-year veteran of the Hawaii County Police Department and a two-time officer of the month.

Watkins has asked the Public Defender’s Office to represent him.

Prosecutors didn’t say what charges they’re seeking. But the victim’s attorney said the investigation may be targeting other officers.

“We’re relieved to see that the case is moving forward. We were concerned from outset that the Big Island police [internal investigation] was compromised,” said attorney Myles Breiner, who represents Burton’s family.

Burton, a 57-year-old construction worker, died in May after he scuffled with police.

The altercation happened during a traffic stop in Honokaa.

Police said Burton was being arrested on suspicion of DUI when he pushed the officer and they both fell. A police spokesman said both men suffered minor injuries.

But Breiner said Burton’s death certificate indicated that he suffered severe trauma, including rib injuries and multiple organ failures.

“We can tell you from the photographs and the hospital reports that one officer couldn’t have perpetrated the type of injuries that Mr. Burton experienced," Breiner said. “He was literally beaten to death.”

Hawaii County Police said they are cooperating with the federal investigation. They said Watkins and other officers involved in the arrest remain on the job….

read … Feds target Big Island police officer in beating death investigation

Hilo: Program to curb homeless trespassing

HTH: …A new initiative by the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association hopes to alleviate downtown businesses’ homeless burden and make them safer for shoppers and workers alike.

The DIA announced in September the establishment of a safety coordinator who will liaise between businesses and the Police Department to intercede on the business’ behalf during engagements with trespassing homeless people….

because the sheltered alcoves in storefronts are the property of the business and not public property, business owners are the only ones authorized to remove trespassers from the premises. If a business owner is not present, Silva said, there is technically no way to prove the trespasser is not there legally.

By signing up for the DIA’s safety coordinator program, businesses can authorize Silva to operate on their behalf. Silva said he would be able to make regular sweeps of downtown businesses, accompanied by police officers, and remove loiterers and possibly charge them with trespassing.

Silva said his role will be limited to the regular sweeps, however, and will not respond to requests by business owners to address immediate issues….

read … Program to curb homeless trespassing

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