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Friday, May 7, 2021
May 7, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:36 PM :: 2496 Views

The U.S. Owes Hawaiians Millions of Dollars Worth of Land. Hawaii Congressional Delegation Helped Make Sure the Debt Wasn’t Paid.

How the Deals Approved by Congress Bypassed Thousands of Hawaiians Waiting for Homes

44% of small-businesses have job openings they can't fill

UH Mānoa highly ranked for diversity, research, employability of graduates

O‘ahu to continue in Tier 3 four more weeks

Ige Approves Kauai's Move to Tier Three

These Tax Bills Got Sent to the Governor - Hold on to your wallets!

Creating Facts on the Ground: Stadium Authority Rushes Decision to Demolish Aloha Stadium

Blangiardi signs bill to subsidize affordable rental housing

HGEA Angered by $2,200 HSTA Bonus

KHON: … Public school teachers in Hawaii could be getting a $2,200 bonus.

That is not sitting well with Hawaii’s largest public workers union, however.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) represents school workers like principals, custodians and special education assistants who will not be receiving the bonus.

The HGEA executive director says they can not support rewarding one profession over others.

“With distance learning, it is now more apparent than ever that success hinges on a community. Educators – including special education and classroom assistants, principals, counselors, librarians, specialists, support staff, custodians, food service employees, parents, and more, working together.  It is unconscionable that the Legislature disregarded collective bargaining and granted this generous cash bonus to one group of employees while making significant departmental cuts elsewhere, like in higher education, which will likely lead to layoffs for others.“ -- RANDY PERREIRA, HGEA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.

The $2,200 bonus is a part of a bill that Gov. Ige has yet to approve…. 

read ... Hawaii public workers union unsatisfied with proposed $2,200 bonus

Legislature slashes operating funds to UH by 10% over next 2 years

HNN: … Lawmakers slashed the University of Hawaii’s general fund appropriations budget by about 10% in the legislative session that just ended, diverting more than $90 million over the next two years away from UH programming.

The bulk of the cut is to the UH-Manoa, the institution’s flagship campus, which saw a reduction of $35.6 million to its fiscal year 2022 general funds operation budget and a $30 million cut in 2023….

Young said the Board of Regents had submitted a budget request seeking an additional $4.7 million. The additional funding was to go to athletics and the Hawaii Promise Program.

The UH fared a bit better in its capital fund improvement requests.

Oddly, Young said the Legislature set aside $42.5 million for a “research and education center” affiliated with UH community colleges ― even though that wasn’t requested by the Board of Regents.

“It is unclear what that project entails,” Young said….

SA: Legislature cuts University of Hawaii-Manoa’s operating budget by nearly 14%

CB: University Of Hawaii Officials Push Back Against Proposed Budget Cuts

read … Legislature slashes operating funds to UH by 10% over next 2 years

Kealoha victim says settlement talks with city collapsed after ‘slap in the face’ offers

HNN: … Settlement talks between the Puana family and attorneys for the city have collapsed, leaving the victims of the Kealoha corruption scandal preparing for trial.

Gerard Puana said the attorneys initially offered $250,000.

“That ridiculous slap in the face,” Puana said, adding he was stunned at the offer since legal experts believe the case could be the most expensive in city history with a payout in the millions.

“People don’t understand. They have no concept of what I’ve been through and my mother has been through,” Puana said….

Eric Seitz, attorney for the Puana family, said city attorneys are risking millions more of taxpayer dollars by refusing to continue settlement talks.

“They’re taking a very naive approach to this litigation,” he said. “This is a very unique case in which the level of corruption was higher than any case we’ve seen anywhere else.”

“A jury could give us $20 or 30 million dollars potentially,” Seitz added, “We could settle this case. We’re willing to come down significantly.”

Retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert agreed the city’s lawyers are not playing fair….

after withdrawing their offers, the office filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to throw out the case altogether….

read … Kealoha victim says settlement talks with city collapsed after ‘slap in the face’ offers

Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, to stay in South Africa for her children’s safety

IOL: … THE widow of the late Lindani Myeni is seeking assistance from the government in order to obtain South African citizenship.

Lindsay, who is an American citizen, was speaking after her husband’s memorial service held at eMpangeni Rugby Club yesterday….

More than 200 people gathered at the rugby club for the memorial service for Myeni, whose remains arrived in the country last Friday. The service was attended by senior local and provincial government officials, including KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala….

Lindsay said she had no intention of going back to the US as she was concerned about the safety of her two children. “I have to do what is best for me and my children. I need to consult with the South African government to get citizenship, so that I can stay in my children’s home country even without my husband.

“We always wanted the flexibility to be in whichever country the children would prosper in the most. For their future, it would be awesome as well to get assistance with their education so that they can study in the country.”…

read … Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, to stay in SA for her children’s safety

Concerns raised after Navy contains another fuel leak at Red Hill storage facility

HNN: … The US Navy says it has contained a fuel leak at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Thursday night.

According to military officials, the spill involved less than 1,000 gallons of jet fuel that went into a containment system in the tunnel, where the pipeline is located, until the fuel was recovered….

read … Concerns raised after Navy contains another fuel leak at Red Hill storage facility

Exposed: Developer’s $65M ‘Affordable’ Housing Trick

HNN: … Residents in the Ke Kilohana affordable apartment complex in Kakaako are asking for the state’s help in their multi-million dollar dispute over maintenance fees.

They blame developer Howard Hughes Corp. for a 50% increase in monthly maintenance costs, which they allege have made their condos no longer affordable under the guidelines set by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

“When we saw the increase in maintenance fees were were shocked and in disbelief. Then it turned into a feeling that we were scammed. It was bait and switch,” said owner Shelley Steele.

Steele said her maintenance fee was $590 a month when she bought her home in 2019. But last year, it jumped by $350 a month, or nearly 60%.

The increase affected the owners of 375 affordable units in the project.

The condo association said developer Howard Hughes Corp. deliberately low-balled the maintenance fees to boost how much it could charge for the units.

Attorney Sharla Manley said that over a 30-year period, Howard Hughes’ maintenance cost estimates would fall $65 million short....

SA: State is asked to intervene in Kakaako housing dispute

read … Residents of Kakaako highrise ask state to intervene in dispute with developer

Bill passes to impose 5% Hawaii conveyance tax on $10M+ condo sales

PBN: .. A bill addressing a laundry list of tax issues in Hawaii that won final passage in the Legislature last week would significantly increase the conveyance tax on residential properties sold for $4 million or more, quadrupling current rates for the highest-priced homes and condominiums.

House Bill 58, among other things, doubles the conveyance tax for single-family homes and condominiums that sell for between $4 million and $5.99 million, triples it for sales of $6 million to $9.99 million and quadruples it for sales of $10 million or more.

The tax, typically paid at closing by a seller, would increase to $1.40 per $100 from the current 70 cents per $100 for homes sold for $4 million to $5.99 million; and to $2.70 per $200 from 90 cents per $100 for homes sold for $6 million to $9.99 million; and to $4 per $100 from $1 per $100 for sales of $10 million or more….

Condo sales would see similar rates of increase, but a condo selling for $10 million or more would see the conveyance tax jump to $5 per $100 from $1.25 per $100.  (That’s a $500K tax)

Conveyance tax rates for commercial properties would remain at the current levels, topping out at $1 per $100 for sales of $10 million or more….

read … Bill passes to quadruple Hawaii conveyance tax on $10M+ home sales

SB474 would require Hawaii home sales to disclose sea level rise (but not commercial property)

PBN: … A bill requiring all sellers of residential real estate in Hawaii to disclose whether their properties are in a sea level rise exposure area passed the Legislature last week.   (NOTE: Just resident6ial.  Commercial properties being bought by HART would not be subject to disclosure.)

Senate Bill 474 amends the state law requiring flood hazard area disclosure to add sea level rise exposure area “as designated by the Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission or its successor.” The bill was sent last week to Gov. David Ige for his signature.

The bill arose from a 2017 law that established the Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission, which identified and studied the areas of the state that will be affected most by sea level rise through 2050.

Its report identifies those areas, down to the tax-map-key level, that are most susceptible to a 3.2-foot increase in sea level that’s projected to occur by 2050, or earlier. The data is available online on the state’s Hawaii Sea Level Rise Viewer tool….

ILind: Bill requires disclosure of sea level rise in real property sales

read … Bill would require Hawaii home sales to disclose sea level rise

Some restaurant owners claim they’re having trouble finding workers during the pandemic

HNN: … Restaurant owners said they are struggling to find people willing to work.

“We have a war of survival, a new war of survival,” restaurant owner Philippe Massoud said.

He said he never thought he’d be facing a shortage of restaurant workers in the middle of the pandemic.

“We have no staff to open for lunch at all,” he said.

Dining in the U.S. is at about 90% of pre-pandemic levels, according to Open Table, and nearly 8.5 million Americans are still out of work.

But Massoud said he can’t find anyone to fill 15 open positions from manager to dishwasher….

“Normally you get at least 30, 40, 50 people, 60 people. We only had three people respond to our ads and none of them showed up,” he said.

In January, 7% of restaurant operators named recruitment and retention as their top challenge. By April, that number was 57%….

read … Some restaurant owners claim they’re having trouble finding workers during the pandemic

Poll: Voters Split Over Recreational Marijuana

CB: … Should Hawaii fully legalize marijuana for recreational use?  An answer to that question is not definitive, as 43% of registered voters said yes in our recent poll while 42% said no. …

read … Poll: Voters Split Over Recreational Marijuana

Claim: Saito Will Go Back to Lunatic Asylum After Manini Prison Sentence

HNN: … The admitted killer who escaped Hawaii State Hospital in 2017 and jumped a Hawaiian Airlines flight to California, triggering a nationwide manhunt, was sentenced Thursday to five years behind bars under a plea deal that also gives him credit for time served.

After Randall Saito serves his time in prison, he’ll be remanded back into the custody of the state Health Department and returned to Hawaii State Hospital ― a forensic psychiatric facility in Kaneohe.

Prosecutors noted that by the time he goes back, they should be completed with an expansion that includes a more secure area….

Saito also alleged that he has seen crimes committed against patients at the facility.

“It is a milieu of ineptitude, abuse and malfeasance and I have lived through that for decades,” said Saito, who was wearing what appeared to be same jacket he had on when he was captured in California. “I fear for all the patients who are up there. I dread the day I have to go back.”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have painted a different picture of Saito’s intentions.

He walked away from the facility with fake IDs and thousands of dollars in cash and caught a flight to California ― all before hospital staff realized he was gone.

(A corrupt judge saw to it that) Saito was acquitted by reason of insanity for the gruesome 1979 killing of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro at Ala Moana Center. She was a stranger to him. He was committed to the State Hospital in 1981 after experts diagnosed him with necrophilia, or sexual attraction to corpses, and sexual sadism….

AP: 5-year prison term for Hawaii State Hospital escapee who flew to California

read … Will Go Free Soon, Just Watch

HGEA Keeps Opening date in limbo for Hawaii State Hospital’s new facility

KHON: … A long-awaited secure facility for court-appointed mental patients is ready to open, but a labor dispute is putting opening day in limbo.

The Hawaii State Hospital has needed the forensic building for decades, but workers say they aren’t prepared to work there. The state says they’ve been getting ready for years.

The gleaming new state hospital building is part jail, part hospital. Those who are court-appointed here will still be termed patients, not inmates, even though they end up there after committing often violent crimes.

“It was designed so that you have better lines of sight, so that you have better security protocols,” explained Eddie Mersereau, Department of Health Deputy Director for Behavioral Health, “so that there’s a lot more ability to make sure we know where people are at all times.”

That includes people like Randall Saito, who had easily escaped from the existing and aging facility at the Hawaii State Hospital campus, which lacks what’s called “forensic” buildings. The nearly $160 million new facility is the culmination of decades of planning.

“The building has come in pretty much on time and under budget,” Mersereau said.

But the state’s largest public worker union says the state didn’t talk to them enough about how work will change in a more prison-like building….

Always Investigating asked, what’s their opening date at this point? The state tells says they’re hoping within 90 days.

“The concept of running a unit is different from the reality of running a unit,” Mersereau said, “so we’re going to take it really, really deliberately, and make sure that that we do it in a way that makes that everybody’s aware of what we need to do.”

With the new facility, there’s space to add 144 more patients, some possibly transferred and court ordered from an overcrowded OCCC. It also needs 115 more workers, while the state hospital is already dealing with a staff shortage. The existing campus has 600 staff positions and 214 beds prior to the expansion….

Meanwhile: Source: Man Arrested For Stabbing 2 Asian Woman in San Francisco Has Lengthy Arrest History

REALITY: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

read … Opening date in limbo for Hawaii State Hospital’s new facility over labor issues

Because Green Energy is a Fraud, HECO-PUC Point Fingers Over Rolling Blackouts Coming After Coal, Oil Plant Shutdowns

IM: … The current issue is: why are Maui and O`ahu facing short-term reliability issues? Will there be rolling blackouts? Who got us into this position? What can be done to get us out of the frying pan?

The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission reluctantly approved the Kapolei Battery Energy Storage System on April 30, 2021, but imposed many conditions, including requiring the addition of a lot of new renewable energy systems so that the battery will be powered primarily by renewable energy.

Hawaiian Electric Company responded with a terse statement, apparently putting the project`s future in doubt.

“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.”…

read … Increasingly Public PUC -- HECO Tug-of-War

Rural America Gets Bad Vibrations From Big Wind

WSJ: … where, exactly, will all those turbines be built? That question matters because local governments across the country are rejecting wind energy projects. Since 2015, about 300 government entities from Vermont to Hawaii have rejected or restricted wind projects. ….

Some of the fiercest fights against Big Wind are happening in the bluest states. Good luck building a wind turbine in Vermont, home of Bernie Sanders, one of the Senate’s loudest proponents of renewable energy. In New York, so many communities are rejecting wind and solar projects that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration recently pushed through regulations that will give Albany officials authority to override the objections of local communities and issue permits for large renewable projects. In California, wind turbines are so difficult to site that most developers have simply given up trying to build new projects in the state….

Meanwhile: Oral Arguments Today: Life of the Land re Na Pua Makani Wind Farm

read … Rural America Gets Bad Vibrations From Big Wind

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