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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
February 18, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:36 PM :: 3041 Views

Emergency Preparedness? Hawaii Drops to Lowest Tier

New Legislation Highlights Lack of Jones Act Competition

Hawaii Billionaire Organizes Anti-Trump Network

HB2069: Hawaii Asset Forfeiture Abuse

School Choice Could be an Anti-Bullying Program

P3 Finger-Pointing: Rail authority hasn’t applied for Dillingham Boulevard closure permits, city says

SA: … The Honolulu rail authority has yet to submit a firm design for Dillingham Boulevard utility construction work or formally apply for the permits it needs to restrict traffic flow there to one lane in each direction, raising new doubts about the rail authority’s timeline for some critically important construction work.

Last week Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Andrew Robbins announced the rail authority plans to restrict traffic flow on part of Dillingham Boulevard to one lane in each direction starting in late March to allow contractors to work night and day to speed up utility relocation for the $9.2 billion rail project.

But Deputy Director of Transportation Services Jon Nouchi said in an interview that HART still hasn’t submitted a final traffic management plan that is required before the lane closures can be allowed, has not submitted a related traffic control plan and has not even submitted a firm design for the utility relocation work it plans to do along the Dillingham corridor.

“We need to have a set of plans, we need to have a design, we need to have a proposal before we can give any credence to closing the street,” Nouchi said.

Nouchi said he cannot predict how long it will take his office to evaluate HART’s plans once it has them, or when DTS will issue the necessary permits for the lane closures. However, DTS Director Wes Frysztacki warned HART in October that DTS would need at least a month to review a complete permit package for the project….

(Translation: The P3 process is failing and the City and HART are each preparing to blame the other.)

Frank Kosich, director of engineering and design for HART, told the rail authority board Thursday that HART expects to receive 10 additional design submittals by the end of the month, and “we’re on the cusp of concluding the design and getting the work going.”

Last week HART released a report by a consultant to the Federal Transit Administration that said delays in getting city permits for the utility relocation work as well as the need to increase the contractor’s capacity to do the job are delaying the award of yet another huge city contract for a public- private partnership to complete construction of the rail line….

(Uh-huh.  Sure.)

read … More Finger Pointing

Thanks to Sea Level Rise Hysteria, Carbon Tax to become $15B Slush Fund for Developers

CB: … One bill would push any new development back to 2 meters (about 6.56 feet) above sea level. That could ban new building anywhere from more than 6 feet just off the coast to nearly half a mile from the nearest shore. Within that zone lies some of Hawaii’s most iconic properties, and right on the edge of what could be Oahu’s new south shore if seas rise, sits one of its most beloved shave ice stores.

But restricting construction in areas that could be inundated is a problem for the construction industry. In the case of urban Honolulu, that’s where many new developments, including some affordable housing projects, are planned to be sited….

The problem is, that’s where much of the new construction is already happening.

There are at least five new high rises in various stages of development around Ala Moana Shopping Center alone. One of those, Sky Ala Moana, is planned to be a 400-foot tower with over 400 units.

Another 418-foot tower, The Residences at the Mandarin Oriental Honolulu, is planned for the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive, which could both be inundated with 1 meter of sea level rise….

Among those measures, Senate Bill 2381 could have the most immediate impact. The measure would double shoreline setbacks to 40 feet and set that 2 meter height limit for new developments. Sen. Karl Rhoads, who introduced the bill, hopes such a restriction could buy the state more time, at least 100 years in some cases, to plan for and mitigate against rising seas….

(Translation: We will now open up mauka areas for development.)

The Building Industry Association of Hawaii says the state should work on relocating government infrastructure like roads and sewers first. That would force private developers to move their projects, Gladys Quinto-Marrone, the BIA CEO, said in written testimony on SB 2381….

The Department of Transportation has already identified vulnerable roads in need of saving, which could cost a total $15 billion….

(Translation: Builders want you to pay them to build the roads up mauka so the developers can develop the land.)

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in 2018 that government should work to harden the urban and tourism centers on Oahu but that beachfront communities around the island may need to move or be cut off….

(Translation: Caldwell wants you to pay some of that money to ‘save’ what they just finished building in Waikiki and Kakaako.)

English has sponsored a bill this year, Senate Bill 3099, which would put into law recommendations found in the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report.

The BIA testified in support of Senate Bill 3132, which would have asked the Department of Transportation to identify critical infrastructure like airports, harbors and highways and come up with a way to protect them from sea level rise. Senate committees killed that measure Feb. 10….

In addition to studying sea level rise and setbacks, lawmakers are also considering a slate of other environment-related bills.

Senate Bill 3150 would create a carbon tax set at $40 per metric ton of carbon dioxide per year. In Hawaii, each person on average is responsible for the emission of 16 to 17 metric tons of carbon annually.

Senate Bill 2629 would require state agencies to participate in carbon offset programs if they use air travel to fly employees for work. Both SB 3150 and SB 2629 were introduced by Rhoads and are awaiting a hearing by the Senate Ways and Means Committee before going to the full Senate for a vote.

House Bill 2657, introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki, seeks to end coal burning in Hawaii. It would halt any power agreements made after June 30 of this year and would prohibit reissuing permits to burn coal after Dec. 31, 2022.

House Bill 2699, introduced by Lowen with support from 32 other representatives, would require state agencies to have all of their light duty vehicles run on clean energy by 2045. House Bill 1859, also introduced by Lowen with 24 others in the House, would create a program at UH to test new toilet and waste treatment technologies.

Those bills are all sitting in the House Finance Committee, chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke, which they must clear before moving to the House for a vote by all 51 members….

Reality: Nobody in Hawaii really believes in sea level rise

Reality: Report: Hawaii’s Billion-Dollar Consensus Proves Nobody Really Believes in Sea Level Rise

More Reality than Most Can Handle: Sea Level Rise? Nonsense, Oahu is Rising From the Sea for Next 1.5M Years

read … Hand in your pocket

Protesters: Extending Mauna Kea ‘Truce’ Would be Beneficial to us

HTH: … In late December, Kim approached leaders of the anti-TMT protest with an offer to reopen the Maunakea Access Road — which had at the time been closed and occupied by protesters for more than five months — and a promise from TMT officials that no attempts to build the observatory would take place until at least the end of February.

With the end of the month less than two weeks away, Kim said he has worked to try to extend the grace period, to give both sides an opportunity to find common ground and reach some kind of mutual agreement.

“Of course, my authority over the whole thing is really quite limited,” Kim said. “But I have asked TMT to extend the period by another two months.”

Kim said he is awaiting a response from TMT officials, adding that his proposal for a two-month extension was discussed at a meeting of the TMT board last week. Although the results of that meeting have not been disclosed to him, Kim said he believes he will get an official answer from TMT by the end of the week.

Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, one of the leaders of the protest, said she hopes the period can be extended, in order to give TMT officials more time to consider building elsewhere.

“I think it would be beneficial for all of us if it gets extended,” Wong-Wilson said. “The best case for us is for law enforcement to continue to stand down. … We’ll remain on the mountain, and it will give them time to reconsider what they’re doing.”

read … Mayor asks TMT to delay construction for two more months

Green Energy Scammers Terrified of More Kahuku-Style Protests

CB: … I’ve made this field my career and have been a renewable energy lawyer and policy expert for 15 years. I help solar power developers get permits and interconnected to the utility grid. As a regulatory attorney I also help develop green energy policies in state legislatures and public utilities commissions in California and Hawaii….

(Translation: I will lose out on serious money if these schemes stop rolling.)

It will be increasingly important for the state and county policymakers to have good guidelines in place for responsible siting of these industrial-scale energy projects.

(Translation: I know more protests are coming.)

The state and each county need to act now and create responsible renewable energy siting guidelines, including appropriate distance from communities, appropriate visibility, sounds, etc.

My hope is that by working with stakeholders on Oahu and the rest of the state we can create a set of “Renewable Energy Responsible Siting Guidelines” to inform policymakers about concerns and issues relating to renewable energy impacts, and to only approve projects that meet these guidelines.

(Translation: I hope we can make the protests go away.)

These guidelines won’t stop the new Kahuku wind turbines from being completed — that project is too far along to be changed at this point. But responsible siting guidelines will help to inform and design the next wind energy project, and the next one, and the next one, as Hawaii pushes further toward its (our) goal of 100% renewable energy (sending as much ratepayer money as possible to Silicon Valley billionaires) by 2045. And ditto with solar power projects…

read … We Need Better Renewable Energy Siting Guidelines

Four Ex-Hawaii Governors Say They Fear For Our Future

CB: … Ariyoshi has been tarnished by allegations that some Democratic insiders used their power to line their pockets; Waihee has been criticized for allegedly showing favoritism to Hawaiian groups and causes; Cayetano was blamed for the ensuing budget cuts when Hawaii’s economy deflated after the Asian financial bubble burst. Abercrombie lost his bid for re-election amid blistering criticism for trying to cut union and retiree benefits during an economic slump and for elevating his young protégé, Brian Schatz, to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat of respected long-term Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had died in office in 2012….

The men each described what they see as widespread and growing public dissatisfaction with the political system in Hawaii today, citing, variously, the protests at Mauna Kea, Waimanalo and Kahuku; the cost overruns on the rail project; the lack of preschool education; the refusal to raise the minimum wage; the epic government failure that led to a thicket of exorbitantly priced high-rise apartments in Kakaako purchased by investors; and the danger posed by the uncontrolled growth of tourism….

Ariyoshi believes the Mauna Kea telescope project should go forward because of the economic development potential it would bring, and he thinks that the protesters have shown themselves unwilling to consider the views of others. He thinks that is unacceptable….

Waihee supported the creation of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. in 1974 and played a major role in the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, which led to the founding, in 1979, of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs….

“When I was in office, Mauna Kea is not the problem,” he said in the interview with Civil Beat. “Mauna Kea, building observatories on Mauna Kea, this is apple pie. And the Hawaiian community, the broader community, was united in doing this.”….

He believes the issue involves a more substantial question of who benefits from economic activity…

Young people in Hawaii, not just Native Hawaiians, believe they are being forced out of the state so that other people can replace them, he said….

Waihee expects the next census to show that more Hawaiians have moved to the mainland than remain in Hawaii. He said many people fear that the government has done little to prevent the population replacement and instead has exacerbated the problem by encouraging rich people from other places to move here….

“The Hawaii Democratic Party is probably the oldest political machine in the United States which has had a continuing unbroken steam of power, political power,” he said. “You know, this is the bluest state in the nation. And it’s not good for us. You know me — I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. But you need to have an effective, loyal opposition. Otherwise, things get out of hand in politics.”

The end result, Cayetano said, has been outmigration by the people who should have become the state’s political leaders….

In previous decades, Abercrombie said, the Democratic Party was concerned about helping the middle and lower classes advance. Now, he believes that many elected officials are no longer truly committed to Democratic political ideology.

Instead, he said, many state lawmakers are “political entrepreneurs” who are focused on advancing themselves and their own financial interests, not the needs of the general populace.

“The working class, which has been the foundation of the Democratic Party, is under severe pressure,” he said. “It’s disappearing. The working middle class is being driven to the margins. And we’re getting an overclass and an underclass in Hawaii. In a certain sense we are getting into a new plantation economy and a new plantation social construct…. 

CB: Fault Lines Reader Feedback On How Hawaii’s Ex-Govs Feel About The State Of The State Now

read … Four Horsemen

HB285: Name Bad Cops?

CB: … Near the end of the 2019 session there finally appeared to be broad agreement on amending state law to require the disclosure of names (of disciplined police officers).

House Bill 285 was supported by the state Office of Information Practices, Common Cause Hawaii, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, the Oahu County Democrats Legislative Priorities Committee, the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.

All testified in support of HB 285, which was virtually opposed by no one except SHOPO. Only one senator and a handful of representatives objected to the measure as it moved through the Legislature.

But, as too often happens, HB 285 hit a mysterious snag when it moved to conference committee to work out differences between the chambers. This, even though the latest Senate amendments to the bill offered a compromise that would have allowed misconduct disclosure beginning in March 2020 but prior bad acts by police would still be subject to review.

Ultimately, legislative leaders elected to take the bill up the following year — which is now. But as of Tuesday, one-third of the way through the 2020 session, no action has been taken on HB 285 nor new legislation proposed.

The lack of legislative responsibility comes as Gov. David Ige is requesting that the state’s nascent Law Enforcement Standards Board get more money from the Legislature and to delay until 2023 the establishment of uniform standards for law enforcement departments statewide. The law would also require police officers be certified by the standards board in order to work in Hawaii, and the board could revoke an officer’s certification separate from a police department’s action.

Until the Legislature finally put the board in place in 2018 — after years of debate — Hawaii was the only state that did not have a police standards board. …

read … Why Is The Hawaii Legislature Still Protecting Bad Cops?

Kealoha case fuels push to change pension laws for disgraced government employees

HNN: … Ex-Honolulu Police Chief and convicted felon Louis Kealoha continues to get a pension paycheck ― estimated to be upwards of $150,000 per year.

That fact is now driving some state lawmakers to consider a change to the law that would lower pension benefits for government employees convicted of felony crimes.

“It’s not rocket science,” said state House Rep. Chris Lee, Judiciary Committee chairman. “If you’re going to break the law in the course of your job from then forward you lose some of those benefits.”

Under a bill before the Legislature, voters would decide on a constitutional amendment to require forfeiture or a reduction in benefits for any employee or former employee convicted of a felony crime that was committed during their government career….

Even if the House Bill 2747 passes and voters approve, it likely won’t apply to Kealoha.

But others facing prosecution, including city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, might be affected….

HB2747: Text, Status

Background: Sen Taniguchi Blocks Bill Mandating Pension forfeiture after felony

read … Kealoha case fuels push to change pension laws for disgraced government employees

Hawaii’s destructive aviation policies affect jobs, safety

SA: … The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has all but declared war on light-plane aviation. The proposed closing of Dillingham Airfield is just the tip of the iceberg. Kalaeloa Airport’s Hangar 111, once the site of a rapidly growing University of Hawaii pilot degree program, has sat idle since 2015. Its adjacent Hangar 110 has just benefited from millions of dollars of FAA-funded renovations, and now HDOT plans to provide the building to a federal agency unrelated to aviation while turning its back on the previous light-plane tenants.

Rents have soared throughout Oahu’s airports, both on hangars and buildings used by aviation concerns. Hawaii’s only seaplane operation closed after HDOT raised its rent on a small dirt parking lot 400% to $91,000 per year….

read … Hawaii’s destructive aviation policies affect jobs, safety

Voter: I Will Quit Voting Because of 100% Mail-In

SA: … Recently, I received in the mail the state Office of Elections’ postcard informing Hawaii voters that beginning this year, if they wish to exercise their right to vote, they now will have to do it by mail — and that polling places will be no more.

I take no issue with the idea of making voting by mail an available option for those who may not want it. I do regard this sudden changing of the rules as an effort to force my hand in this way — and against my will.

Sorry, but if I am not able to personally place my own ballot into a ballot box, with my own hands, I will not vote….

2014: Strong difference between absentee and same-day voters on anti-GMO issues

2016: Akina for OHA wins on Final Rad after trailing on Absentee Ballots

read … Not everyone wants to vote by mail only

DES: Caldwell Personally Decides Whether to Pick up Garbage in Chinatown

SA: … Chu Lan Shubert-Kwok, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association, said many Oahu residents are already discouraged from going there due to ongoing struggles with the homeless, higher crime, increased parking rates, fewer street parking stalls and mounting trash.

Shubert-Kwok pointed out two large piles of cardboard boxes, black trash bags and what she described as “stinky open garbage” that has been piling up along one section of Maunakea Street for at least four days.

“It’s not tied up, so (the Department of Environmental Services) doesn’t pick it up,” Shubert-Kwok said. “They’re trying to send a message.”

In September the city instituted a new policy that requires merchants, property owners and residents to bag their curbside trash in large, specially marked bags that cost about 60 cents each. Those who don’t use the bags are expected to use dumpsters serviced by private disposal companies.

“That is our policy. If it’s not in the yellow bags, we’re not picking it up,” city Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said. “If I just keep picking it up, it’s just going to enable the illegal dumpers.”

If a pile has been there awhile and it poses a potential hazard, “the mayor will dictate that either (Environmental Services) or (the Facility Maintenance Department) need to pick it up,” Kahikina said.…

(Caldwell personally decides whether to pick it up or not.  Amazing!)

Kahikina said the reports she’s been receiving from merchants is that the yellow-bag system is working.

The next step is to convert to locking carts that can be opened only by authorized property owners, merchants or residents and then be cleared by ENV crews, she said. The city is in talks with United Public Workers, the labor union that represents sanitation workers, about the change, she said….

(Translation: The UPW is the Problem)

Both Shubert-Kwok and Chinatown businessman Oren Schlieman criticized Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who held a news conference with other state and city leaders Saturday to declare Chinatown safe and to encourage the public to ignore the rumors and do some shopping there.

Shubert-Kwok said Lt. Gov. Josh Green made a similar visit several days before Caldwell’s visit, and said she’s distrustful of the motives of both since they both are likely running for governor in two years….

He said if Caldwell were serious about cleaning up Chinatown, he would “get a SWAT team together” of sanitation workers and social workers “and clean this place up.”

A visitor to Hawaii going to Chinatown to dine at one of its noted restaurants gets hit by the smell of urine, “and it’s surrounded by filth,” Schlieman said. “And you hear that Chinatown has coronavirus, what are you going to think?…

Big Q: Should the city collect trash dumped illegally in Chinatown?

read … Chinatown leaders advocate for more sanitation measures

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