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Wednesday, May 5, 2021
May 5, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:44 PM :: 2781 Views

China a threat to Jones Act lobby, except when it’s not

UH Announces Graduation Plans

HECO Disconnect Moratorium Ends May 31

Poll: 63% Like Green only 29% Like Caldwell

CB: … Of those surveyed in the latest Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll, 63% said they had a positive view of Josh Green, who has all but declared his intention to succeed the term-limited David Ige next year.

The governor’s positive numbers were a dismal 22% while more than half of voters (53%) see the governor in a negative light. Green’s negative numbers, by contrast, were just 17%….

The deadline to file candidacy papers for the Aug. 13, 2022, primary, is not until June 7, so there is plenty of time for gubernatorial candidates to emerge.

The only potential candidates to have begun raising money for a run are Green and former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

If Caldwell is still weighing a run for governor, the new poll may prove sobering. His positive numbers (29%) and his negative numbers (46%) statewide are similar to Ige’s. Like the governor, the former mayor has not benefitted from the same voters (about two-thirds) who believe that the state and local stay-at-home and quarantine orders were called for and worked.

By contrast, Caldwell’s successor, Rick Blangiardi, fares much better in the new survey, although about one-third of Oahu voters say they aren’t sure what to think of the new mayor.

But with a 50% positive rating on Oahu Blangiardi “is still in the honeymoon phase,” said Fitch. “Compared to Caldwell, voters are happy with a fresh start.”

He added, “Fairly or unfairly, there is a fair amount of Caldwell fatigue. With things like rail, it’s not going to get any better. And next year is going to be here before you know it.”…

HNN: Civil Beat-HNN poll: Among voters, Ige (and not Green) is getting the blame for COVID missteps

read … Poll: Hawaii Voters Really, Really Like Lt. Gov. Josh Green

63% Fully Vaccinated in Hawaii

CB: … The Aloha State reached a milestone with 62.57% of its vaccine-eligible population of people at least 16 years old fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to Baehr….

In March, about 65,000 to 73,000 shots were administered per week, according to Baehr. That reached a peak of about 81,300 shots in the first week in April before falling to 72,000 the week of April 11 and 66,600 the week of April 18….

A recent Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll found that 75% of approximately 1,500 registered Hawaii voters who responded said they already got the vaccine. Another 12% of respondents said they planned not to get a COVID-19 shot, while 5% wanted to wait and 4% reported feeling undecided….

read … As Demand Wanes, Hawaii Reduces Its COVID-19 Vaccine Order For The First Time

Radiant Cordero: Stopping rail at Middle Street won’t save money

SA: … Despite claims to the contrary, stopping rail at Middle Street will not save the project money (“As costs balloon, Honolulu rail board looks at stopping troubled project at Middle Street,” Star-Advertiser, April 24). Rather, it will put the city in breach of the full funding grant agreement, triggering lawsuits and repayment of federal funds.

The agreement allows for the Federal Transit Administration to require specific performance of the route, even without further funding. The unspecified “Plan C” proposed by a Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board member would result in a stranded asset that places a heavier tax burden on the city, which would be ineligible for federal funds to operate and maintain any system that stops short of Ala Moana….

read … Stopping rail at Middle Street won’t save money

Hawaiian Electric Says It Might Pull The Plug On Giant Battery (Rolling Blackouts Coming)

CB: … The large energy storage system, essentially a giant battery, would help ensure Oahu has a stable supply of electricity when AES Corp. closes its coal plant late next year.

But regulators have expressed concerns that Hawaiian Electric intends to charge the battery with electricity produced by oil-fired power plants and not renewable resources….

The approval came with several conditions including requiring Hawaiian Electric to make it easier for homeowners with rooftop solar to send excess power to the grid to help charge the battery. The same goes for remotely located wind and solar farms that people who live in apartments and condos can subscribe to buy power from, projects known as “community based renewable energy” projects.

The utility responded by saying it may have to abandon the project.

“While technically an approval, the order imposes such unprecedented conditions that the company and the developer may be prevented from moving forward with this innovative and cost-effective project,” Hawaiian Electric said in a statement.

Renewable energy advocates applauded the PUC for imposing conditions, which they said will promote the use of green energy, even though the battery will be charged with fossil fuels for at least a year or two….

(Summary: “Green Energy = Rolling Blackouts”)

UD: HECO chafes at Hawaii PUC's conditions on new battery project, saying they could deter deployment

read … Hawaiian Electric Says It Might Pull The Plug On Giant Battery

Small Businesses vs OHA Landlordism: Hawaii lawmakers set to extend land lease terms to nearly 100 years

SA: … How the state leases public land for commercial and other use is on the verge of historic change.

A highly divided Legislature recently passed a heavily contested bill that would let tenants on state-owned public land maintain leases for roughly a century, up from 65 years, without competition.

The measure, House Bill 499, reflects a furthering policy shift in recent years by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which generally used to oppose giving new lease terms to tenants nearing lease expiration because it would undermine a long-standing objective to provide equal opportunity for use of public land via competitive auctions promoting higher rent revenue.

HB 499 would give DLNR’s board the power to extend leases for up to 40 years if tenants make major property improvements — defined as costing at least 30% of what existing facilities on the land are worth — and agree to revised rent based on land value.

If Gov. David Ige enables the bill to become law, lessees of public land statewide, which include businesses at airports, harbors, industrial parks and other places as well as government entities other than the University of Hawaii, potentially can put off competition for land they lease.

The bill attracted opposition mostly from Native Hawaiian organizations and individuals largely concerned that beneficiaries of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands will suffer by not having such lands used for other, possibly more beneficial purposes.

On Tuesday, Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi held a rally outside the state Capitol and urged Ige to veto the bill…

(Clue: OHA landlordism is not the road to the future.)

read … Hawaii lawmakers set to extend land lease terms to nearly 100 years

For Maui families to stay on Maui, we need a new affordable housing system

MN: … In late 2020, the Hawaii Community Foundation launched the House Maui Initiative, committing to play an objective role in creating systems change to help create equitable housing opportunities for Maui residents. We advocate for systemic and holistic solutions that are community driven, based on data and reflective of the needs of Maui families. Our goal is to help dismantle the barriers within government systems and raise the awareness of opportunities on the horizon — to restore hope.

Over the past 30 years, government has transferred the responsibility of building major infrastructure like roads, water, sewer and public facilities from a government role to a direct cost on housing development. This has created an imbalance of risk and cost that exacerbates the ability for the private sector (both for-profit and nonprofit) to deliver affordable housing opportunities for Maui residents. The result has been piecemeal and expensive development of infrastructure on a project-by-project basis that ultimately pits stakeholders against each other attempting to determine where affordable housing should be delivered.

Lack of long-range planning and infrastructure investment has led to unnecessary and counterproductive policy initiatives. Hawaii’s housing market is the most highly regulated in the nation. As a result of Maui’s regulatory environment, the delivery of affordable housing for the lowest-income households is left to a few smaller nonprofit developers who don’t have the sustainable capacity to meet the escalating demand….

read … For Maui families to stay on Maui, we need a new affordable housing system

Bringing Back The Pork: Case, Kahele Earmark Requests Revealed

CB: … Earmarks were banned in 2011 after a series of scandals involving congressionally directed spending. Now (that Trump has completely decimated conservatism) Congress has decided to bring the process back with more transparency….

Building a new blood bank, growing fresh coral for Waikiki tourists and expanding the ability of an organic farm in Waianae to process more produce are just a few of the pet projects Hawaii congressmen Ed Case and Kai Kahele hope to secure funding for during this year’s federal budget negotiations.

Friday was the deadline for lawmakers to submit their earmark requests to the House Appropriations Committee, and more than 300 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle obliged to take part in the practice despite its complicated and, some might say, sordid past….

In total, Case and Kahale asked for $17.2 million in direct federal spending for nearly two dozen projects in Hawaii.

They also asked for $40 million in set asides for Hawaii in multiyear surface transportation legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

Among their requests are $1.5 million to rejuvenate the Big Island’s floriculture industry that suffered an estimated $30 million in damages after the 2018 Kilauea lava flow, $6.15 million for a bikeway that will allow cyclists to travel from Nanakuli to Aloha Stadium and $8 million to improve Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii — the only provider for the islands’ 18 hospitals — would get $2.1 million to build a new facility in West Oahu after it was forced to relocate due to construction of Honolulu’s 20-mile passenger rail line.

Nearly $900,000 would be used to help MA’O Organic Farms in Waianae build a new processing plant to handle its increased produce output after expanding operation from 24 acres to 281 acres.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources would get $415,000 to boost coral production in the waters around Waikiki to entice tourists to snorkel in the area and help reduce the pressure placed on natural corals elsewhere….

read … Bringing Back The Pork: Case, Kahele

Prosecutors seek maximum sentence for Ken Lawson’s gift to Hawaii--former death row inmate found guilty of robbery

HNN: … Prosecutors plan to ask for the maximum sentence for former death row inmate Isaiah McCoy, who was found guilty of robbery on Monday.

Jurors deliberated for only about 30 minutes before reaching the guilty verdict in the 2019 crime.

“The violent, the dangerous, the ones who wont stop stealing, this office is going to focus on sending them to prison,” city Prosecutor Steve Alm said.

“Mr. McCoy is the perfect example. He checks all three boxes. He needs to be locked up.”

McCoy is known for beating criminal charges at the state and federal levels. In 2016, his death penalty murder conviction in Delaware was thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct.

He moved to Hawaii upon his release because he has family here (Ken Lawson encouraged him to come.)

And ever since, he has had numerous run ins with local law enforcement….

In September 2017, McCoy was arrested in a Honolulu police raid in connection with a Waikiki murder. McCoy was never charged in that murder but was held on a warrant.

In January 2018, McCoy was arrested on federal prostitution and trafficking charges.

In November 2018, the federal charges were thrown out and he was freed again after a judge determined the government withheld evidence.

The Waikiki robbery that McCoy was found guilty of happened in September 2019. He and an accomplice stole a watch from a man, cash and credit cards from others in the car.

The month before, McCoy was arrested for an alleged armed robbery in Manoa.

And in November 2019, deputy sheriffs arrested McCoy at the airport for trying to get through security without proper identification….

Sentencing in the robbery case is set for July 27….

read … Prosecutors seek maximum sentence for former death row inmate found guilty of robbery

Obeying a police officer’s instructions is part of the social contract we must respect

SA: … We have not forgotten the sacrifice of Honolulu police officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama who ran toward the danger while we all ran away from it. We have not forgotten the sacrifice of our law enforcement officers who are hallowed at the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial, situated near our state Capitol, where our elected government officials enact laws we agree to follow, through the social contract, for our safety and well-being.

The social contract is an agreement between the governed and the government. The theory explains the government is legitimate and it has the consent of the governed. The government enacts laws and we, as the governed, agree to follow these laws for the good of society. Therefore, the social contract is an agreement whereby a government is granted authority by its people to govern them….

The time to dispute the fairness of an officer’s actions is not on the side of the road in the middle of night when no one else is around. We should conform and, if we feel it necessary, follow up with a complaint to the Honolulu Police Department Professional Standards Office, or the Honolulu Police Commission. If we are not satisfied, we can contact an attorney and possibly file a lawsuit in court….

read … Obeying a police officer’s instructions is part of the social contract we must respect

Blangiardi Drifts without any Policy as Homeless concerns growing in Chinatown

SA: … Blangiardi and/or his representative are scheduled to speak before the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board at 1 Aloha Tower Drive on Thursday. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m….

“we’re not seeing the sweeps,” said Eric Wong, who helps organize a walking patrol of Chinatown residents.

Yvonne Christie, 64, has been homeless for 19 years and said police officers seem more tolerant in Chinatown.

“They don’t mess with anybody, really,” Christie said. “Everybody’s more conscious about picking up their trash. So that’s a plus.”

Moments later a woman walked down North Hotel Street yelling and was pursued by a man who threw an open plastic bottle of water in her direction, spraying the sidewalk. At another point a shirtless man pushing a shopping cart yelled profanities and threatened a Star-Advertiser reporter while saying that a bank had swindled him out of more than $320,000.

What’s clear is that homelessness in Chinatown remains a major issue for merchants as business has picked up for some. Other businesses have closed, leaving behind shuttered storefronts boarded up with sheets of plywood full of graffiti.

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, a Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board member and a founder of the Chinatown Business &Community Association, estimated that 30% of Chinatown’s more than 100 street-level merchants and restaurants have given up and gone out of business in the era of COVID-19.

And with fewer beds available in nearby shelters because of COVID-19 distancing, Shubert-Kwock believes more homeless are in Chinatown each day and sleeping in shuttered doorways at night.

With fewer places to stay, Shubert-Kwock asked, “Where do you think they go?”

Katrina Long, co-owner of Fred’s Sundries on North Hotel Street, was blunt about the situation:

“More homeless,” she said.

Carlos Hernandez-Rodrigues has been working private security in Chinatown since 2019 and is now head of security for Maunakea Marketplace.

“There’s drugs, there’s stabbings,’ Hernandez-Rodrigues said.

On Monday he told a shirtless man without a mask that he could not enter Maunakea Marketplace, and was threatened with a knife.

Hernandez-Rodrigues used a piece of fencing to knock the knife away.

“Nothing’s changed,” Hernandez-Rodrigues said.

At River and North Hotel streets, the windows of Cuu Long II restaurant have been “broken a bunch of times since COVID,” or five times, said manager Joey Nguyen.

Insurance pays the $4,000 replacement costs, but the restaurant still has to come up with a $500 deductible each time, Nguyen said.

Since Blangiardi’s administration took over responsibility for the city’s homeless situation, Nguyen said, “Nah, I don’t see anything. No improvement, and it gets a bit worse at night time.”

read … Homeless concerns growing in Chinatown

Homeless’ Dogs Get Microchips and Meds, but Meth Addict Owners not Forced into Housing

TGI: … A booth of the Kaua‘i Humane Society was busy Tuesday morning at a Lydgate Park homeless outreach event.

The park is set to shutter at the end of May to its current houseless residents, who have been able to shelter in place for over a year.

A steady stream of clients were provided a chance to get animal vaccines, flea treatments, collars, microchips, spay and neuter vouchers and deworming medication, KHS Executive Director Nicole Crane Schafter said.

At an outreach held at Lucy Wright Beach Park, Crane Schafer said KHS had seen over 30 animals, and were able to vaccinate or microchip about 20, mostly puppies.

The county has set up outreach events with community partners each month prior to the park’s closing date. Tuesday, representatives from Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity, Women In Need, Project Vision – Hawai‘i with its mobile-hygiene center, and Kaua‘i Community Alliance, a chapter of Bridging the Gap, with Catholic Charities, showed up to offer support and services.

As of April, Lydgate hosted over 67 permitted individuals. And after it closes on the last Monday of the month, only Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe will remain open until the end of June. It is likely that the encampment will be at capacity….

(Wow.  They will do ANYTHING for the homeless—EXCEPT force them into housing.)

Meanwhile: No decision yet on temporary night closure of Kailua Pier Bumfest

read … Keeping the Homeless nice and comfy on the streets

Skydiving gets 6-month extension at Dillingham airfield

SA: … Oahu’s only skydiving operations can continue to operate at Dillingham Airfield at least until Dec. 31 under an extension granted by the state Department of Transportation.

Some lawmakers are optimistic, meanwhile, that a long-term lease eventually will be secured between DOT Airports as landlord for civilian aviation and the Army, which owns the North Shore airfield.

Businesses including two popular skydiving operations — Pacific Skydiving and Skydive Hawaii — were previously given until June 30 to vacate the airfield because the Airports Division said it was losing money at Dillingham and it was ending its lease….

The state said the airfield operated at a deficit of nearly $1 million in 2019, but tenants say that includes costs for an old water system that supplies the nearby Air Force satellite tracking station, among other users. No fees are collected….

read … Skydiving gets 6-month extension at Dillingham airfield

University of Hawaii graduate assistants sue for right to unionize

SA: … Graduate assistants at the University of Hawaii have gone to court in hopes of gaining recognition as public employees with the right to unionize and bargain over pay and working conditions.

Academic Labor United and three graduate assistants filed suit Saturday in Circuit Court in Honolulu against the Board of Regents, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and the state of Hawaii….

The Hawaii Constitution gives public employees the right to organize and bargain collectively. But the Hawaii Labor Relations Board determined in 1972 that graduate assistants are not public employees, and so they cannot join the faculty or staff unions at the university.

Numerous bills have been introduced at the Legislature to overrule the Labor Board’s decision, but none has become law. In 2015, House Bill 533 passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by the governor….

read … University of Hawaii graduate assistants sue for right to unionize

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