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Friday, August 9, 2019
August 9, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:59 PM :: 2672 Views

After Years of Illegality, OHA LLCs Hand over Check Registers—Trustees Repeal Nepotism Clause

UH Names Chun executive director of Maunakea stewardship

Hearings to Set Rail Fares 

Bridge Aina Lea: Statute of Limitations?

Matson forecasts lower net income and EBITDA for 2019

How really to help low-income earners

Rail: Will State comptroller refuse to pay $160 million settlement with Ansaldo?

SA: … State Comptroller Curt Otaguro is refusing to authorize payments for delay claims on the city’s rail project if the city rail authority or its consultants were to blame for the circumstances — rejecting already a total of $11.2 million in invoices.

That could present a serious problem for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which has already agreed to pay many millions of dollars in delay claims to various contractors working on the $9.2 billion rail line. In one settlement announced earlier this year, the rail authority agreed to pay $160 million to resolve delay claims by contractor Ansaldo Honolulu JV.

Development of the 20-mile rail line is far behind schedule, prompting large delay claims from a number of contractors. The city projected in 2012 the entire rail line would be operating by Jan. 31, 2020, but the city now does not expect the full rail line to open until the end of 2025….

Under a state law passed in 2017, HART submits its invoices including delay claims to the comptroller’s office, which reviews the invoices to ensure they qualify as “capital” or construction- related costs that are eligible for state funding from hotel room or excise tax collections. State tax collections from those sources are paying the vast majority of the cost of the city rail project….

Otaguro said he does not believe DAGS has yet received the biggest delay claim of all, the $160 million settlement with Ansaldo.

“Once we receive those claims, we’ll have to take a hard look at the reasons for those delays,” he said. “That’s going to take some investigation, some due diligence on our auditors’ part.”…

read … State comptroller refuses to pay for setbacks blamed on the rail authority

Protesters May Allow a Few Astronomers to return to Maunakea

HTH: … Astronomers with the Maunakea Observatories will attempt to return to the summit for the first time in four weeks thanks to a new agreement with protesters occupying Maunakea Access Road.

According to a news release from TMT spokespeople, protesters at the Access Road agreed to let all observatory staff, including astronomers, up the mountain after Gov. David Ige rescinded an emergency proclamation regarding the protests last week….

Observatory staff are allowed to use a side path across the lava to access the mountain, which some observatory representatives considered unsafe due to the high amount of tents and pedestrians along the unmarked path.

Since that agreement was made, traffic cones and cinder have been placed along the side path to address safety concerns, according to the news release. Larger vehicles will be allowed to ascend Maunakea using the Access Road, but will still be required to circumnavigate the tent blockade on the road itself.

Observatory officials hope the new arrangement will allow the observatories to return to full operations as soon as possible. However, according to the news release, observatories will still need to liaise with the protesters to notify them of what vehicles will go up the mountain and when….

“The interim solution for access to the telescopes is a step forward but remains inadequate for the long term,” said Ige in a statement. “The state remains committed to re-opening the Maunakea Access Road intersection as an immediate priority. The state stands behind the more than 500 employees’ efforts to bring the telescopes back online to begin astronomical observations again.”

read … Astronomers to return to Maunakea

School Suspensions: Busted, DoE Changes the Test Answers

SA: … Data showing Hawaii students were suspended far longer than the national average was based on incorrect reporting by the state that overstated the situation, the superintendent said today.

“It has come to my attention that erroneous data was submitted for the 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection, which has led to misinformation being shared publicly,” Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a written statement.

“The inconsistencies in student discipline data resulted in the doubling or tripling of data counts of suspended days,” she wrote in a letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, asking to amend the records….

(Yeah.  Right.)

Background: Lawsuit: Hawaii DoE SPED Suspensions top in USA

read … Suspension data overstated for Hawaii public school students, superintendent says

Will Drug Dealer Escape 20 Year Sentence Because Officer Misconduct?

WHT: … Officer misconduct apparently sidelined a police witness in a drug case, and now a judge is set to rule today on whether the defendant in the case will stand trial.

Jose Miranda was charged in December 2017 with 11 counts of first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Two counts were dropped, and after four continuances, trial was set to begin on June 18. However, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss all charges on May 16 due to the unavailability of a witness, a now-retired police officer whom the prosecution refused to identify.

Hawaii Police Department Chief Paul Ferreira also refused to provide prosecutors information regarding a police officer’s unavailability as a witness in the Miranda case, according to recently unsealed exhibits.

“I believe at this time your only course of action would be to ask for these cases to be dismissed without prejudice pending the outcome of any internal investigation and if the judge decides to dismiss with prejudice, it is within his authority,” Ferreira wrote in a May 16 email to Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth about the officer who was on leave without pay.

Ferreira based his concerns on disclosure, citing the review board had not yet determined the validity of the charges against the officer, later identified as Sean Smith, and was concerned about the potential consequences if his identity and nature of the charges were revealed….

Smith was administratively charged with standards of conduct relating to truthfulness, subversive acts prohibited, firearms discharge and obedience to laws, written orders policies, etc. in connection with the 11-day manhunt for fugitive Walter Gomes III in late-March…..

On July 2, the review board released its report finding that Smith, on or about March 21, fired two rounds using his personal supplemental firearm in a private driveway in the area of Akoni Pule Highway and Camp 17 Road in North Kohala.

At the time, the identity of the officer who fired their weapon was unknown. The court filings indicate Smith subsequently lied to his supervisor when asked if he fired the shots….

The board, which is composed of ranking Hawaii Police Department officers, unanimously voted to recommend Smith’s discharge from the department, with Ferreira concurring with the findings.

However, Smith retired on May 31, before any disciplinary action was taken. Ferreira, in a July 2 declaration to the court, said he received notice of Smith’s application for retirement on May 20 effective June 1….

HTH UPDATE: Prosecutors Withdraw Motion to Dismiss, Trial to go Forward 

read … Disciplined officer reason for closed case dismissal request

Millions more to be spent on Kakaako parks after state hands off to city

KHON: … The handover includes 41 acres of mostly Kakaako makai parks – Kakaako Waterfront Park, Kakaako Gateway Parks, and Kewalo Basin Park. In all, there are17 parcels including parks, parking lots, buildings and sheds, and areas leased to businesses and nonprofits. The deeds even cover 53 roadways and remnant parcels, including some on the mauka side of Ala Moana Boulevard….

“It’s too overwhelming. Our side, the west side, our bathrooms are clean, our parks are clean, but to come to town and to see it like that, that’s terrible,” said Pua Miner, a West Oahu resident visiting town for the day. “Take care of the bathrooms because it’s filthy, really filthy. I guess too, it’s the homeless.”…

The homeless presence has come and gone and come again in different areas, lately along the sidewalks and fences. The mayor says patrols hired for Ala Moana Park would be extended into Kakaako when the city takes over.

“I think it will make a difference to some degree,” Caldwell said, “but as you know we play this game, we move them and they move somewhere else. We cannot have that happen again so we’re going to be vigilant.”

The vigilance, and the maintenance, come at a cost

“We’re looking at adding positions and of course funding for this taking over this park,” Caldwell said.

HCDA spent about $1 million a year in its park budget, $640,000 for contract maintenance and about another $400,000 for utilities. The city has allotted double that for Kakaako — $2.18 million in city salaries and expenses — plus another $1 million or so in startup equipment. Park users tell us more care, and cost, will pay off for the public and visitors….

read … Millions more to be spent on Kakaako parks after state hands off to city

Air conditioning systems not working in some leeward elementary classrooms

KHON: … She said her son’s classroom has an air conditioning unit but it doesn’t work. To help cool down the kids, fans were added to the classroom.

“That is not enough. When the administrators are sitting in air conditioned offices and wouldn’t work in the same conditions, how can they expect our children to learn, our small children,” said Ballou. “It’s terrible.”

A few streets down at Ewa Beach Elementary school, the Department of Education confirmed that there are six classrooms with broken AC systems. The department said it’s working with the school to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, the school has moved classes to cooler rooms, installed portable AC systems, and adjusted windows to let in more airflow. They’re also reminding students to stay hydrated.

We asked the Department of Education when the AC systems would be fixed at the two elementary schools. We will update the story once the DOE responds.

Ballou has offered to raise money to either pay someone to fix the AC system in her son’s classroom or buy a new one. She said she’s working with the principal to find a solution.

The Department of Education does allow people and businesses to donate AC systems to schools.

In order to do so, they must first contact the principal of the school to let them know that they intend to donate….

Flashback Sept 2017: Cool Schools: Ige Claims Success:

read … Air conditioning systems not working in some leeward elementary classrooms

2020 ballot: Profitable Non-Profits to Loot Open Space Fund?

WHT: … Better idea.  Just abolish the fund….

read … PONC money for nonprofit boards heads to 2020 ballot 

Telescope News:




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