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Saturday, May 1, 2021
May 1, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:07 PM :: 3353 Views

Secret Document Shows HART looking at 27 possible rail changes 

Legislators Breathe New Life into Auditing OHA

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

UH Debate Team Accused of Mocking Black Debate Opponents

Extended Deadline: Judicial Vacancy – Circuit Judge, Circuit Court of the Second Circuit

City’s Rental and Utility Relief Program to reopen May 3 at 2 p.m.

TAT Hike?  “Now is not the time to increase the cost of doing business in Hawaii.”

MN: … Victorino’s announcement and the possibility of an additional surcharge did not sit well with Mufi Hannemann, CEO and president of the Hawai’i Lodging & Tourism Association.

“We know that there are differing opinions among the four county mayors on HB 862. We had hoped that Mayor Victorino would have delayed any announcement regarding the enactment of a county surcharge because, if Governor Ige vetoes this measure, any planned surcharge would be on hold,” Hannemann said in an email Friday afternoon.

He added that his organization’s position is clear that “now is not the time to increase the cost of doing business in Hawaii.”

He pointed to the state ranking among the most expensive places to visit in the nation and the state having the highest unemployment rate.

“An additional 3 percent surcharge would make Hawaii the state with the highest hotel-related taxes in the country. And this doesn’t take into account airline ticket prices or pandemic-related costs,” Hannemann added.

He said raising travel costs will turn travelers away and hurt the small business economy.

“As Maui is the local county most reliant upon tourism, it doesn’t seem prudent to threaten the most dependable sector of their economy,” Hannemann said….

read … Mayor may seek increase on hotel room tax

Head Of Hawaii’s Teachers’ Union Is Vying To Be Interim Superintendent (cut out the middleman)

CB: …  Corey Rosenlee, the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and a longtime social studies teacher at Campbell High School, announced in a Facebook post on Thursday that he has applied for the interim superintendent role, a position some see as a trial run for the permanent position….

The state Board of Education is overseeing the selection process for a new school chief, starting with a search for an interim leader who will be responsible for managing the full reopening of classrooms by the start of the new school year on Aug. 3.

Applications for that post were due by the end of day Friday. The board has said the interim superintendent will be eligible to apply for the permanent job.

Rosenlee, 48, is the only person who has publicly announced he’s applied for the role, though other names within Hawaii’s education circles have surfaced as potential candidates, such as recently retired complex area superintendent of Nanakuli-Waianae, Ann Mahi, and the current deputy superintendent Phyllis Unebasami.

Earlier this week, Mahi, a former principal at Roosevelt High, told Civil Beat she’s considering applying for the position but did not confirm anything.

The issue of who ought to lead Hawaii’s public school system, which includes 174,000 students, 294 schools and about 22,500 personnel, came up in the latest legislative session, which adjourned Thursday.

Lawmakers tucked a provision establishing minimum requirements for the role into an unrelated education bill. The measure, Senate Bill 515, cleared without being subject to the conference committee process, and heads to the governor’s desk.

That measure would require the BOE to prioritize candidates who have at least 10 years experience in the Department of Education, with at least half that time as a school leader or higher, and possess “a working understanding of Hawaii’s tri-level systems of educational administration.”

That would potentially disqualify someone like Rosenlee, who has never held a school leadership role, while Mahi or other Hawaii school principals or complex area leaders, would be shoo-ins….

April 29, 2021: Lawmakers Push BoE to Hire Local Superintendent

read … Head Of Hawaii’s Teachers’ Union Is Vying To Be Interim Superintendent

Colleen Hanabusa’s gravy train

SA Editorial: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has let go a number of its consultants in a cost-cutting move, but at the same time, has hired one who’s especially high-profile as well as high-priced.

Colleen Hanabusa — the former congresswoman, state Senate president and HART board chairwoman — has been awarded a contract that could max out at $924,000.

The job? Serving as a liaison to city, state and federal government entities in the course of completing Oahu’s troubled 20-mile transit project….

HART spokesman Joey Manahan said $216,000 will be for the first 18 months of service in the six-year contract. That’s the only part of the contract that’s now funded, he said; however, the full deal would entail a 7.7% increase in “Option Year 2” and another 7.1% in the final year….

Hanabusa was the only bidder on this contract. The rail project is already contending with a popular perception that it is a gravy train more than a transit system, designed to churn up new and fatter contracts for insiders. The interim executive director and CEO, Lori Kahikina, has made news by making cuts in staff and consultant redundancies so this hire needs justification.

And based on the RFP listed qualifications, this one seemed tailored to fit Hanabusa: law degree, minimum 20 years of practice, at least 10 years at the city and/or state level, at least five years at the federal level….

(CLUE: Big Rigging is a federal felony.)

CB: John Pritchett: Bad Penny

read … Colleen Hanabusa’s gravy train

Blangiardi Suggests Rail Could Stop Short of Ala Moana

CB: … Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Friday that his administration is weighing whether to stop building the city’s elevated rail system short of Ala Moana Center, casting more uncertainty on the future of the megaproject as it faces a new $3.4 billion dollar budget hole.

The comments indicated his administration is seriously considering presenting a plan this summer to the Federal Transit Administration that doesn’t reach Ala Moana, given the project’s myriad problems combined with slumping tax revenues, a sluggish economy and record unemployment across the state.

“When I go to the FTA, it’s going to be with them on where we think we can get and how far we can build it. Whether or not Ala Moana is in that plan I don’t know,” Blangiardi told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” online interview show. “This notion of how far we can take the rail, or building to Ala Moana, is almost out of context with the reality that we’re in.”

“If the numbers don’t make sense (then) the strategy doesn’t make sense,” Blangiardi said. “Right now, the numbers don’t make sense.”  …

read … Blangiardi Suggests Rail Could Stop Short of Ala Moana

Overregulation will lead to even less affordable housing

MN: … The Maui County Council has labeled Bill 10 as the “affordable housing bill,” even though nearly every economic and affordable housing expert testified this bill will produce very few homes for our residents.

Even the council’s own consultant, Hawaiian Community Assets, a respected community organization the council contracted for $300,000 to develop an affordable housing plan, urged them not to move forward with Bill 10. Yet the council still pushed ahead with an affirmative vote.

Hawaii Community Assets’ draft recommendations call for streamlining land zoning regulations and improving predictability in planning, permitting and council review processes. The draft goes on to say, the council’s “approval processes lead to derailment of the project and having to repeat the process, adding time to development and increasing costs dramatically.”

Bill 10 adds another unwelcome layer of regulation and bureaucracy to existing homebuilding processes. Overregulation delays projects, raises costs and won’t fill our urgent need for an array of affordable housing options….

The council voted 6-3 to pass Bill 10, but it’s notable that the three opposing votes came from Maui County Council chair Alice Lee, a former director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns; Council Member Tasha Kama, past chair of the council’s Affordable Housing Committee; and Council Member Yuki-Lei Sugimura, chair of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. All three watched a similar measure passed in 2006 fail spectacularly. It yielded just three workforce homes after eight years….

read … Overregulation will lead to even less affordable housing

Hawaii has now sunk below California for last place in in-person instruction.

CB: … Hawaii is now leading the nation in the least amount of in-person instruction available for children grades K-12, according to Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker. …

On its Hawaii DOE Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan webpage, the Hawaii Department of Education states:

“The Department is working closely with state and federal agencies to safely reopen campuses for the 2020-21 school year. Please continue to check back here for updates. We will be adding details and information about what staff, parents and students can expect when school [sic] reopen in the fall.”

Forgive me, HIDOE, but after frequent check-ins for updates, I do not believe you anymore….

read … Hawaii has now sunk below California for last place in in-person instruction.

HECO to Switch from Coal to Oil Because Green Energy Initiative is a Fraud

PBN: … The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission conditionally approved the Kapolei Energy Storage 185-megawatt project, while simultaneously taking Hawaiian Electric Co. to task for furthering the expected use of fossil fuels on Oahu, on Thursday.

The Kapolei Energy Storage, or KES which can be likened to a giant battery, was to be an important bridge for Oahu’s transition off of the 180-megawatt AES coal plant in September 2022 and onto a greater share of renewable power. But now, because of delays on key renewables projects, KES is now expected to be charged by the burning of oil for an undetermined time period once the AES plant shuts down.

The PUC wrote in its decision and order that it is approving the project so that the “lights will stay on” after the AES plant and other fossil-fuel plants are retired in the next several years. The coal plant provides about 15% of Oahu’s power.

“Ultimately, the Commission concludes that the continuation of reliable service following the scheduled retirement of the AES coal plant is of paramount concern and represents a significant public interest. In furtherance of this, the Commission finds that the Project’s role in bridging this near- term gap in service supports its approval.

“That being said … the urgency of this situation is largely a byproduct of Hawaiian Electric’s willful disregard of the Commission’s guidance and presents a number of concerning impacts to ratepayers.”

PUC chairman Jay Griffin wasn’t immediately available for comment Friday on what Oahu electric customers might see on their bills past September 2022, but he previously compared using oil firing to replace the coal plant akin to “going from cigarettes to crack” during a memorable exchange in a virtual meeting with stakeholders in March.

Developer Plus Power has listed KES’ construction timetable to begin this summer with a slated commercial operation date of June 1, 2022. Plus Power has targeted an eight-acre parcel of land near a HECO power station….

SA: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approves Kapolei Energy Storage project, with conditions 

IM: Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission Approves Massive Electric Battery

read … Hawaii PUC approves HECO Kapolei Energy Storage project

Carrying a gun in public in Hawaii

SA Editorial: … Hawaii is one of only eight states that places significant restrictions on carrying guns for self-protection outside the home.

Hawaii law says that a county chief of police may grant a license to carry a concealed weapon for someone who, “in an exceptional case,” demonstrates a “reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property.” Likewise, for an open-carry permit, a demonstration of “the urgency or the need” to carry must be demonstrated. Permits are rarely, if ever, granted.

Such restrictions are anathema for those who believe the Second Amendment gives individuals a more-or-less unfettered right to bear arms. Indeed, most other states appear to lean in that direction.

gun-rights advocates may have the last word. The U.S. Supreme Court this week said it will review a New York law that requires people seeking to carry a gun outside their homes to demonstrate “proper cause.”

In the past, the high court has turned down many opportunities to review its landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision, which established an individual’s constitutional right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. This time the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, could find that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a gun in public, and that strict rules violate that right.

It’s an issue that hits home. In 2012, Hilo resident George K. Young Jr. sued after then-Hawaii Police Chief Harry Kubojiri twice rejected his application for a license to carry a firearm. Young sought to obtain the license out a general desire to protect himself, without demonstrating “the urgency or the need” required by state law to carry a gun openly.

On March 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on a 7-4 vote, upheld Hawaii’s statute….

read … Carrying a gun in public in Hawaii

HPD releases audio of 911 call that led to fatal police shooting of 29-year-old man in Nuuanu

HNN: … The call begins about 8:10 on April 14, when a woman called to report that a man had entered her home on Coelho Way. She initially sounds relatively calm and says the man is “wandering” in the house and doesn’t have any weapons. “I don’t know what he needs,” she says.

But as the call progresses, she gets more distraught and frantic.

It takes a little more than five minutes for officers to arrive at the scene….

read … HPD releases audio of 911 call that led to fatal police shooting of 29-year-old man in Nuuanu

Brother of teen fatally shot by police indicted for another robbery

HNN: … The 21-year-old brother of a teen fatally shot by police in McCully has been indicted for a second robbery.

Authorities said Maruo Sykap remains at large.

On Friday, an Oahu grand jury indicted him for first-degree robbery in connection with a robbery April 22 at Old Stadium Park.

The city Prosecutor’s Office said he robbed a man while “armed with a dangerous instrument.”

Officials said the victim is 28 years old.

Previously, Sykap had been indicted for second-degree robbery in connection with a separate crime near the makeshift memorial for his brother in McCully.

Maruo Sykap is the brother of 16-year-old Iramamber Sykap, who was shot and killed by officers following a police pursuit and crime spree on April 5….

read … Brother of teen fatally shot by police indicted for another robbery

More seniors homeless on the streets

KITV: … The percentage of homeless seniors has doubled at the Institute for Human Services over the past seven years….

read … More seniors homeless on the streets

Local 5 Celebrates Communist Holiday with Rally in Projects

KITV: … Members of the Hawaii Workers Center, UNITE HERE Local 5 hotel workers union, and Coalition to Defend and Respect Hawaii's Workers will march from Kalihi District Park to the Towers at Kuhio Park Resource Center at 10am and host a rally…. 

read … Hawaii Workers Center May Day march and rally call for workers' rights

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