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Friday, August 2, 2019
August 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:16 PM :: 2889 Views

Exclude 2/3 of Contractors from Bidding? Proposal on Council Agenda

Mauna Kea Reopened to Hunters

Telescope: OHA, Lassner Begin to Haggle over Rent Money

HNN: …The strong emotions on both sides of the debate have spurred Lassner to ask himself whether the $1.4 billion telescope is worth the divisions it has created.  “I also have to say going the other direction is equally divisive,” he said.

…He points out TMT is paying $1 million per year in a community benefits package for education and also a $1 million a year in rent once it’s completed. Some 20 percent of that goes to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for ceded lands. The rest goes to manage and protect the mountain….

The current telescopes pay no sublease rent. but do pay for other services on the mountain. Lassner says after 2033, the other telescopes understand they’ll have to start paying to be on Mauna Kea….

(IQ Test: “Sacred”?)

read … Cash Negotiations 

Protester: TMT could contribute more cash to Hawaiians

SA: … A suggestion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope protests: Negotiations over crowd dispersal and arrests are missing the big picture, and sustain a lose-lose situation for the state, the University of Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian community.

The state and UH should focus on how the Native Hawaiian population can benefit directly from the TMT. What is offered must address issues of disparity between the Hawaiian community and the general population, serve the Hawaiian community specifically, and be sustainable for generations.

For example, a substantial amount of the lease rent from the TMT and the other existing observatories can be appropriated to improving and expanding Native Hawaiian health centers, or establishing culturally based programs to prevent reincarceration of Hawaiian men and women.

This would, of course, be in addition to continued access for cultural and religious purposes, removal of five of the existing telescopes and any other previously established agreements. Furthermore, future projects involving disturbance of wahi pana (sacred sites) such as Mauna Kea must begin with considerations such as these….

SA: Dozens of TMT opponents stay put as rough weather thins out Mauna Kea camp

read … TMT could contribute more to Hawaiians

Mountain of lies against TMT

PBN: … One of the frustrating things about watching the Thirty Meter Telescope protests stifle construction are all the emotionally manipulative lies being used to justify the blockade. Chief among the mischaracterizations is the idea that the telescope is somehow going to make greedy developers rich.

None other than actor Leonardo DiCaprio did a drive-by social media hit this weekend advancing that whopper, by passing along Instagram posts from graphic designer Ashley Lukashevsky and ethically challenged former state Rep. Kaniela Ing. Lukashevsky, a part-time Hawaii resident who sells “Protect Mauna Kea” posters for $25 on her website, says: “Standing in solidarity with protestors on Mauna Kea, protecting the sacred aina from scientific imperialism. It breaks my heart to see indigenous people and land continue to be dismissed by the state of Hawaii and its wealthy developers.”

Ing’s post says the protests are “an environmental struggle against wealthy developers who seek free reign. It’s a microcosm of what’s happening across Hawaii and the world: profiteers exploiting fragile places without regards for the future. … Some things are more important than a quick buck — like our planet’s and people’s survival. That would be $1.3 billion well spent.”

That’s some pretty dramatic rhetoric. It’s also untrue.

There are no greedy developers. There is no profit, no quick buck, no profiteering. The $1.4 billion price tag is not proof that shadowy evil rich guys somewhere expect to get richer. It’s proof only that such a sophisticated, one-of-a-kind instrument is extremely complicated and expensive to build. And it’s being built, if it’s ever allowed to be built, by a nonprofit organization that basically has to beg for the money in the form of grants.

If you can’t oppose something without lying about it, then the thing you’re opposing literally does not exist. You’re opposing nothing but a figment of your imagination.

The only real profit to be made on Mauna Kea is knowledge….

read … Mountain of lies against TMT

Point-by-Point Debunk of Anti-Telescope Lies

CB: … How big will the TMT be?

Civil Beat recently received this question from a reader: “How much more land is intended to be used for the new telescope or are they removing one or two of the old telescopes and using the same pads for the new one? I’ve been told they are taking thousands of more acres? Is this true?”

The TMT is going to be built on a new site, not on top of decommissioned telescopes. The entire project area is expected to take up 5 acres, including the telescope dome, support building and parking lot. The building itself will be 180 feet high and 14 feet below ground level.

What impact — if any — will the TMT have on the Big Island’s aquifer and water supply?

The TMT’s potential effect on the water supply is one of the most commonly voiced environmental concerns by activists.

The state has concluded that the telescope doesn’t pose a risk to the aquifer or Hawaii island’s water supply. This is based on scientists who testified at public hearings and contributed to the environmental analysis of the project.

The closest groundwater wells are 12 miles away and because the project site is thousands of feet above sea level, it’s expected to have no significant impact on natural resources. Here’s Judge Riki May Amano’s description in her ruling approving the TMT’s 2017 permit:

“The groundwater beneath the summit of Mauna Kea is impounded and compartmentalized by subsurface geologic structures. Because the TMT Observatory will use a zero-discharge wastewater system, wastewater will not be released from the TMT Project so no percolation of wastewater will reach the aquifer….

What about chemical spills and hazardous waste?

As far as buildings go, the TMT is taking lots of steps to prevent any emission of waste. Solid waste and hazardous waste produced by existing observatories are already routinely removed from Mauna Kea. The nonprofit behind the TMT has a multi-step plan to ensure the telescope doesn’t pollute the mountain.

“All of our containment vessels are double-walled, all of our waste is removed from the mountain,” says Squires of the telescope. “None of it is discharged up there.”

Unlike previous observatories, the TMT will not use mercury.

Will the TMT use nuclear power?

No. This is an unfounded claim that’s occasionally floating on social media.

The TMT will rely on Hawaii County’s electric grid, similar to other observatories. There won’t be any nuclear power used on the site at all, and there is no nuclear energy currently used by other telescopes on Mauna Kea….

read … Hysteria Debunked

City’s new vacation rental law faces at least 2 legal challenges

HNN: … The Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association filed the first lawsuit, saying the new law is unconstitutional and violates laws governing zoning and administrative procedures.

“The City Council rushed through a flawed, unfair and illegal bill, and in its haste to crack down, the (Department of Planning and Permitting) has released illegal rules which violate the rights of the owners of legal rentals,” said attorney Greg Kugle.

A second lawsuit by the owners at the Waikiki Banyan condos will also seek a temporary injunction to halt the city from enforcing the new law.

“Basically, the whole financial structure of the building is under the assumption that they they could continue to due the short-term vacation rental,” said Christian Porter, attorney for the condo owners who plan to sue in the next several days.

“At least 87% of the folks have been operating as a hotel type condo, they’ve had a front desk, they’ve paid the taxes.”…

“A search of the Internet earlier this week showed a drop in the number of ads from 5,000 to 4,150, or a 17.7% decline, since mid-July,” the city said, in a news release Thursday….

read … City’s new vacation rental law faces at least 2 legal challenges

Missed deadline threatens $220M in federal funding for Ala Wai project

SA: … City and state officials missed a Wednesday deadline to reach an agreement that would have given them access to $220 million in federal funding to shore up the Ala Wai Canal and its watershed to protect Waikiki and several other Oahu neighborhoods from flooding.

The Army Corps of Engineers was supposed to find a sponsor for its $345 million Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Project by Wednesday. To lessen flood risks, the corps would build a wall around the canal and put huge flood-control structures in the upper reaches of the watershed.

Now the loss of millions in federal funding may be imminent, unless corps officials in Washington, D.C., agree to an extension. The state has agreed, at least in theory, to pay $125 million for the project, the amount required to receive the $220 million in federal funds. The city has agreed to serve as the project’s sponsor and maintain what gets built. But as of Thursday the parties were still at an impasse.

The project’s fate is now up to corps officials and the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, said Andrew Pereira, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s communications director.

“The city provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a road map and a time frame for signing (a proposal),” Pereira said. “The city has not heard back whether the proposal was accepted.”

The corps did not respond to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s request for comment.

Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, said Thursday that “conversations are ongoing between the state and the city, but I don’t have anything else to share beyond that.”

The deadlock goes back to the state’s failure to secure $125 million in this year’s budget to meet the federal cost-share requirement. State officials didn’t view this as a major setback, initially, because the federal government was willing to take the money in future installments. However, the state didn’t count on the city’s reluctance to serve as a sponsor on a project that wasn’t fully funded and would therefore require the city to assume more risk….

Background: Ala Wai? Corps of Engineers has Long History of Corruption and Cost Overruns

read … Good News

$80K ‘Success’ bonus: Last Hi Tech Schemer Takes Taxpayer Money (one more time)

SA: … The board of the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. approved a “success bonus” of at least $52,827 for the government agency’s outgoing President Karl Fooks in June, raising concerns in the Legislature as to whether the unusual payment for a public-sector worker was an appropriate use of government funds.

As part of the bonus, Fooks may have been paid another $28,740 — fringe benefits paid out in cash — but government officials said they weren’t sure.

“Whether you want to call it a performance-based bonus or severance — it almost seems like a severance bonus or some sort of payout — these types of things should not be happening in state government,” said House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke….

Fooks served as president of the HSDC, an agency attached to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, for a decade until it was dissolved by the Legislature at the end of June. The agency’s activities were statutorily transferred to the Hawaii Technology Development Corp., also an agency attached to DBEDT….

Lawmakers believed a single entity with the powers of both agencies could better pursue the state’s goals of boosting economic development in the technology sector. Luke said she expected Fooks’ position, which involved attracting private investment capital to Hawaii growth sectors, to be absorbed into HTDC.

However, Fooks, for reasons that remain unclear, did not join HTDC….

On June 10, weeks before the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. was to dissolve, the board of the agency met in executive session where they unanimously approved a bonus for Fooks for his “exemplary service” over the past 10 years, minutes of the board meeting show. The bonus included $50,000, plus fringe benefits. However, state officials wouldn’t explain what was meant by “fringe benefits.”

A spokeswoman for DBEDT suggested that fringe benefits, such as health benefits and taxes, were paid out in cash in the amount of $28,740. But she couldn’t confirm the breakdown or the total amount of the bonus paid to Fooks.

Luke said she too had tried to get clarity from Gov. David Ige’s administration on what the “fringe benefit” portion of the bonus entailed, but was also unsuccessful.

“Was it a cash payout?” said Luke. “They were very vague about it. There has to be transparency when dealing with these kinds of transactions.”

As part of the bonus, Fooks was also awarded a 5% increase to his base salary of $113,076, retroactive to the beginning of the year. The retroactive pay amounts to about $2,827.

Luke said the retroactive pay raise was also troubling as the Legislature had rejected HSDC’s request to raise Fooks salary earlier this year during the legislative session….

The 11-member board was composed primarily of people from Hawaii’s private sector and was chaired by Michael O’Malley, a partner at Honolulu law firm Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel….

read … ‘Success’ bonus sparks criticism about use of taxpayer money

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