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Wednesday, December 11, 2019
December 11, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:40 PM :: 2106 Views

TMT: Time to Reassess Viability of Hawaii Telescope Project

Auditor: Zoo Loses Track of $658K

Impeachment? Ed Case 'Not There Yet'

Audit should set off alarms at OHA—But Trustees don’t seem to care

SA Editorial: … However, based on the initial reactions, the trustees don’t seem particularly chastened by those troubling findings — when they should be.

“While this report observed indicators of potential fraud, waste or abuse, it did not identify actual instances of fraud, waste and abuse,” said OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado and Trustee Dan Ahuna, who chairs the board’s Committee on Resource Management….

But some of the examples it cited plainly illustrate where some weak links could lie, and where there should be concern about running a much tighter ship at OHA.

Here’s just one example: A $185,000 contract in 2012 for Absolute Plus Advisors, for financial advisory services. A contract amendment was executed five months after the contract date, and no documents were on hand to show the firm did its contractual job.

Another note concerned 33 grants that were missing evidence that OHA had verified that applicants met requirements that guard against nepotism and conflicts of interest; there was a lack of progress and monitoring reports on other grants, numerous other due-diligence shortcomings identified in the record.

And in an especially distressing case, a $150,000 disbursement for a lease guaranty OHA signed was split in two payments, which required easier approvals.

These kinds of fiscal sloppiness and manipulation ought to concern OHA beneficiaries, who reasonably may worry that the trust fund meant to help them is part of a system that leaks like a sieve….

read … Audit should set off alarms at OHA

In going green, the devil is in the details

Cataluna: … there is a scattershot, almost faddish approach to green initiatives, where a new ban or a new law is suddenly all people care about, and as soon as the victory is claimed, the moment passes, and people move on to be riled up by something new without thinking through the issue they just “won” all the way down to the end points. There is also the underlying possibility that much of new environmental law in Hawaii is being pushed forward to win political points for elected officials and to get “Hawaii is the first in the nation …” headlines in national news outlets….

how will we eat a bento without the plastic bento container or a plate lunch without the foam lidded plate?

Don’t worry. There are new products that are biodegradable that will fill the gap.

And what are those new non-petroleum-based biodegradable containers made from?

Sugar cane.

Which means Hawaii can supply its own alternative to the problem of importing plastics! Yay!

Oh, wait. Hawaii doesn’t grow sugar cane anymore. The last sugar operation in Hawaii was shut down due to economic concerns and the constant attacks by … oh, this is awkward … environmentalists….

So all the biodegradable products will have to be shipped here from somewhere else. That’s not so eco-friendly.

Similar snarls exist in other efforts to go green: yay renewable energy until someone is putting in windmills in Kahuku or a solar farm in Wailea or starting up geothermal again. Yay recycling until years later it suddenly dawns on local government that it costs too much and uses too much fossil fuel to ship all our recyclables to China or the mainland to be processed. Yay turning glass bottles into glassphalt to make roads until it becomes terribly obvious that it’s too expensive a process for an inferior product.

Environmentalists seem to control local politics, except they do it piecemeal, pushing one initiative and then another without a macro look at the issues. It’s not enough to act now and figure out the details later. Figure out the details now. And maybe figure out a way to use all that former sugar land on Maui for making plate lunch containers instead of growing kindling for brush fires, because those aren’t great for the environment either….

Must Read: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read …  In going green, the devil is in the details

Eco-Religion Jousts with the ‘Wicked’

CB: … The passage of Bill 40 has a lot of hands wringing.

Last week, the Honolulu City Council passed a strict and sweeping bill that bans large amounts of single-use plastic and polystyrene foam currently used by Oahu restaurants and businesses.

The battle has become a familiar one: young, progressive environmentalists on one side and older, local business owners on the other. The latter expressing deep concern over the impact Hawaii’s ever-growing regulations will have on business, while progressives voice urgent concern over the impact some practices have on the environment and the future Hawaii in which they will reside.

It’s a hard conversation, and I unfortunately don’t think we’re getting any better at having it.

There’s actually a term for the phenomenon: they’re called “wicked” problems. Wicked environmental problems refer to large-scale social and policy challenges. They are identified by divergent political positions and social conflict over the particular issue.

In Hawaii, we have more than our fair share of wicked problems….

(Translation: The high priests of the Eco-Religion launch a media agit-prop campaign identifying you or your product as ‘wicked.’  They then  swoop in with a simple ‘solution’ which just happens to benefit their donors.)

Must Read: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read … Hawaii Needs To Get Better At Resolving ‘Wicked’ Problems

Mitch Roth running for Big Island Mayor

WHT: … Mitch Roth is giving up an almost assured third term as county prosecutor in order to run for mayor of Hawaii County.

Roth, 55, standing amid his old prosecutor campaign signs with the word “mayor” slapped in red over “prosecutor,” and cheered on by more than 100 supporters wearing new campaign T-shirts, made his announcement Tuesday at Liliuokalani Gardens.

Roth pledged to bring the community to the table to tackle “the best island’s” woes, while maintaining a culturally sensitive mayorship that encourages a strong economy while veering away from the over-development seen on other islands.

Mayor Harry Kim, who’s eligible to run for another four-year term under term limits laws, said Tuesday he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to run. Kim, 80, has said he wants to retire, but he also wants to be sure the county will be in good hands.

Kim said Roth has been in touch with him about the race.

“I gave him the standard advice to do what you do based on what you want to do, not what I’m going to do,” Kim said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I don’t know when I’m going to make up my mind. I wish him well.” …

One of Roth’s campaign pledges was to look at unsolved murders, which have no statute of limitations, “with fresh eyes.” One of those was the notorious “Peter Boy” case, which ended with the conviction of Peter Kema Sr., who was sentenced in 2017 to 20 years imprisonment for manslaughter….

read … Roth running for mayor

Oahu property tax assessments up 1.7%

SA: … The total value of Oahu properties increased by only 1.7% this year, and that likely will have a negative impact on the city’s budget next year.

But Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Tuesday he will not propose an increase in property tax rates for next year despite the anticipated budget constraints….

Total assessments on Oahu last year went up 6.9%, and they have gone up between 5% and 10% annually since 2013. So this year’s small increase likely is going to mean tough choices will have to be made in the coming months for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, the mayor said….

read … Oahu property tax assessments up 1.7%

City to introduce roving tents to force homeless into shelter

KHON: … The first park that was chosen is the Waipahu Cultural Garden Park where Hawaii’s Plantation Village is also located. The spot was picked because of the number of homeless people in the park.

“Our concerns were our guests we have a lot of tourists and especially a lot of children that come,” said Evelyn Ahlo, Hawaii’s Plantation Village Executive Director. “As we talked with the city and HPD, keep talking with them having meetings, then we thought okay we should try. It is a pilot program and people need a second chance.”

“I feel the majority of my constituents feel that we would be far better off to have the homeless occupy or residing in a kind of setting that the HONU project will provide rather than for the homeless to remain on the streets,” said City Councilman Ron Menor.

The plan is to have several of these tents on-site for 60 to 90 days and then moved to another part of the island. So neighborhoods will not have to worry about having a permanent structure set up.

The budget for the 3-year pilot project is $6-million. The governor and mayor are expected to speak about the project at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. We learned these tents could go up as soon as this week…. 

KITV: City shows off new equipment for homeless hub

HNN: City unveils mobile outreach center to help move homeless off the streets

LAT: Supreme Court confronts homeless crisis and whether there’s a right to sleep on the sidewalk

read … City to introduce roving tents to help homeless population

Soft on Crime: Homeless Tweeker Gets 1 Year for Child Molestation, Burglary

MN: … A 19-year-old man who broke into a Wailuku home in May and sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy as he slept was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and five years’ probation.

Second Circuit Court Judge Richard Bissen handed down the sentence, following a plea agreement, to Marujel Kedibar, also known as Murjel Keribar.

Kedibar was given credit for the time spent in jail. He was ordered to stay away from the boy, his family and other minors, as well as the residence.

(Translation: Inability for this tweeker to make bail is the ONLY justice in this case.)

Kedibar, who has no local address, pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling and third-degree sexual assault in the incident on May 6 in Wailuku….

Kedibar was drunk and high on methamphetamine at the time.  Kedibar has been on the streets since he was 16…

Kedibar went into a home when a family was sleeping and sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy, who still is recovering from the incident.

“He is afraid and is uncomfortable in his own home,” Coccaro said of the victim. “This is not fair to do to a 9-year-old.”

Coccaro said the victim’s family also is planning to move…

Usual Suspects: Lets let lots and lots of criminals out of prison, it’ll be great

read … Soft on Crime

Homeless Drug Addicts and Lunatics Squat in Empty KSBE Buildings—Burglarize Neighbors

KHON: … Fear and frustration from Moiliili residents over some abandoned buildings in the area. They say squatters are moving into those buildings, making the neighborhood unsafe.

Residents say the buildings have been boarded up for months and they would like the landowner, Kamehameha Schools, to fix the problem.

Residents say an apartment building on Isenberg Street has been boarded up for months. But that hasn’t stopped what they call squatters from moving in.

“At night they fight or they play music and we have no idea but it’s fighting noise or some kind of screaming,” said resident Emi Crandall.

That’s not the worst of it. They say there’s been vandalism and thefts, and are worried about what could happen next.

“They’re watching us so sometimes we go travel and they know so it is a bit concerning,” said Crandall.

A block away on Coolidge Street, there are two boarded up buildings and nearby residents expressed the same concerns, not just for themselves but for their neighbors.

“He didn’t come to my house, he came to their house and he was talking crazy about ghosts and stuff and things like that, and they actually put a restraining order on him,” said resident James Chiya….

HNN: Video of Homeless Dude Working on Insanity Plea After Murder of Artist

SA: Elderly deserve respect, not crimes

read … More Homeless Mayhem

Suit: Kauai police failed to monitor woman who took an hour to kill herself with blanket

HNN: … The family of a Kauai woman who killed herself in view of surveillance cameras that were supposed to be monitored by officers is suing the police department, saying a mother and grandmother would still be alive today if someone had stepped in to help her.

The incident happened in June 2017, when Leslie Lutao was arrested for a traffic warrant. Hawaii News Now has obtained the Kauai Police Department video from that day that’s now evidence in the lawsuit.

The video shows the 59-year-old Lutao walking into cell no. 5 of the KPD cellblock just before noon on June 30. By 1:19 p.m., Lutao was dead ― after working for more than an hour to kill herself with a blanket provided to her. Over the course of that hour, no one came to her aid….

read … Suit: Kauai police failed to monitor woman who took an hour to kill herself with blanket

Regulations coming soon for bikeshare companies --  but not Biki, they have insiders on payroll

KHON: …  Bikeshare companies will soon face regulations and fees. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a measure into law which establishes a $500 fee for any such company that wants to do business on Oahu.

The companies will also have to pay $30 per year per bike and rent ranging from $1000 to $4300 for any parking stalls they take up.

Biki, however, will be exempt for two and a half years…. 

read … Regulations coming soon for bikeshare companies

US Ramps Up Attention On Micronesia To Curb China’s Expanding Influence

CB: … The treaties, known as the Compacts of Free Association, date back to the Reagan era. The U.S. fought the Japanese in the region during World War II and for years afterward, administered the islands as a Trust Territory through the United Nations. When the Marshall Islands, Palau and a group of islands that became the Federated States of Micronesia voted to be independent nations, the U.S. decided to sign the compacts to retain military control over the highly strategic region.

Today, the Pacific nations receive millions of dollars each year to support critical educational, infrastructure and health services along with the right to live and work visa-free in the U.S. In return, the U.S. military controls the region — including the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands — a crucial buffer between the U.S. and Asia that cements the U.S. as a Pacific power.

But the money is set to run out, and if the U.S. doesn’t extend the funding, China looks prepared to swoop in. Hoping to deter China, the Trump administration is ramping up its focus on the region.

“Your small islands are big strongholds of freedom,” Pompeo said. “Just as we did during World War II, we will oppose any larger nation’s attempt to turn the Pacific Islands into footholds for regional dominance.”

Along with Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the compacts ensure the U.S. controls more than 3 million square miles in the western Pacific — an area comparable to the size of the continental U.S.

But under the treaties’ terms, the flow of money for the FSM and the Marshall Islands stops in 2023. For Palau, it ends in 2024. While trust funds have been set up to help fill the void, they won’t generate enough money to keep the fragile economies afloat….

In the FSM, Chuuk State is planning a March vote on potential secession, potentially creating another window for China to gain a foothold in Micronesia….

Over the past several years, Chinese grants helped build homes for FSM government officials, purchase ships for interisland travel and offer scholarships for islander students, the RAND report says. China proposed building two casinos in the FSM and even rolled out the red carpet for the nation’s president in a 2017 visit to Beijing.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, China successfully persuaded the Solomon Islands and Kiribati to recognize Beijing instead of Taipei this fall, part of an aggressive effort to expand its diplomatic ties in the region….

read … US Ramps Up Attention On Micronesia To Curb China’s Expanding Influence

Paid Family Leave Likely For Nearly 20,000 Federal Workers In Hawaii

CB: … This week Democrats and Republicans agreed to terms on an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act that, if signed into law, would give federal, non-military workers 12 weeks of paid time-off to care for their newborn or adopted child.

Military service members already receive 12 weeks of paid parental leave….

(Most of the rest of the ‘article’ is free advertising for Schatz, who had nothing to do with this clause being inserted into NDAA.)

read … Paid Family Leave Likely For Nearly 20,000 Federal Workers In Hawaii

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