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Tuesday, February 22, 2022
February 22, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:57 AM :: 2511 Views

OHA Does not Back HB2024: Wants to Make Money from Telescopes

Hawaii 3rd Highest Jobs Opening Rate

Record graduation rates at UH campuses across the state

What Census Data Reveals About Hawaii AntiVaxxers

Fundraising events during session net $1.5M for English and other top Legislators

KHON: … Rhoads doesn’t hold money events during session, but nearly 100 lawmakers have in the decade of data Always Investigating reviewed. Those holding the most are some of the senior lawmakers: Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is in the top spot with 15 events held in-session since 2013; second is Sen. Michelle Kidani with 13; third Rep. John Mizuno with 12. Rep. Sylvia Luke and former Sen. Kalani English tie at fourth with 11 apiece. Ninety other lawmakers held hundreds more events during session.

Just the top five raised nearly $1.5 million between them. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Dela Cruz received $536,348 on dates that fall during legislative sessions since 2013; House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke $361,432; Senate Vice President and Education Committee Chairwoman Kidani $267,853; and Mizuno raised $79,270. English, who resigned last year and was caught in a bribery scheme, raised $218,516 legally in-session between 2013-2022.

“What I think we should do what we can do, is be sure that the process, the legislative calendar, and fundraisers are separate, delinked, decoupled,” Rhoads said. “Right now having a fundraiser during session is perfectly legal.”…

HTH: Hawaii Senate panel passes ban on fundraisers during session

HB555: Text, Status

read … Fundraising events during legislative sessions may be headed for ban

Push to drain Red Hill fuel creates target for enemy attack

SA: … As the Navy faces increasing pressure to drain the tanks at its Red Hill fuel storage facility, the question of where the fuel could be relocated is moving to the forefront.

As various proposals are taking shape, what’s clear is that, given the complexities tied to the massive underground site, there’s no quick-fix answer for permanent relocation.

Even so, the U.S. Senate last week passed a funding bill that includes a provision requiring the Department of Defense to abide by a state emergency order issued by the state Department of Health to drain the tanks and provides $100 million in funding for the process. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law Friday….

Further raising the ante, on Feb. 11, Hawaii’s congressional delegation introduced legislation that would require the Navy to cease fueling operations at Red Hill, drain all the tanks by the end of the year and permanently decommission the facility….

Navy commanders have argued that moving the fuel to a new facility would be an incredibly costly, time- consuming use of resources. A 2018 analysis commissioned by the Navy found that building a new facility to replace Red Hill could cost $4 billion to $10 billion and take until 2051 to complete….

Walton pointed out, “There’s been a recognition that DOD has lots of fuel in locations that might be inaccessible, or heavily contested, in a conflict.” He added that has prompted a plan in the works to relocate some fuel reserves to Australia from Northeast Asia and that places “greater emphasis on fueling in Hawaii.”

In January the U.S. military began building a $270 million facility in Australia’s Northern Territory where the U.S. Marine Corps maintains a force of about 2,500 Marines that is expected to grow larger. It will have 11 large above-ground tanks capable of holding nearly 80 million gallons of jet fuel.

The Pentagon has been shutting down underground fuel storage tanks in California, Washington state and the Republic of the Marshall Islands and shifting to above-ground tanks. Walton said the shift is a cost-saving measure as above-ground tanks are considerably cheaper to build and easier to operate….

However, he said, “They are considerably more vulnerable to attack, and that’s problematic — and it’s made it so that a larger proportion of DOD underground bulk fuel stores are now consolidated in Red Hill.”

Commanders worry that key facilities could be targets for missiles or bombers, and are particularly protective of fuel reserves. Walton said that the rugged terrain that encases Red Hill would protect the tanks even from most “bunker- buster” munitions….

Congress in 2020 authorized creation of the Tanker Security Program, which provides stipends for a fleet of 10 U.S.-flagged tanker vessels crewed by civilian mariners in exchange for a commitment that the vessels would be available to the military during a conflict or national emergency. The program has yet to be funded.

“Either those tankers or, preferably, additional tankers that would be leased by the Maritime Administration (and) provided to the Military Sealift Command, could provide some of those floating fuel stores,” said Walton….

while he has forcefully called for Red Hill’s permanent closure, Kahele has also pushed for increasing military resources in the Pacific to check China.

In November he led several lawmakers in sending a letter to the Pentagon calling for a significant increase in Air Force funding and more warplanes. At that time he told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser, “We need as many of those F-35s as we can get off the production line.”…

read … Push to drain Red Hill fuel tanks touches off relocation questions

Idea: Lets Give OHA and DHHL $1.2B (again) and Bulldoze all the Telescopes

CB: … Senate Bill 2122, scheduled for hearing Tuesday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee…OHA is now seeking back payments of $638 million to cover the past 10 years – 2012 to 2022….

Besides SB 2122, Senate Majority Floor Leader Jarrett Keohokalole introduced Senate Bill 3359 (companion House Bill 2511) providing at least $600 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to help with the decades old backlog of demand for housing….

Add House Bill 2024 that attempts to address the “who should manage Mauna Kea” issue….

read …  Free Money and no Science --the Road to Progress

PRP Works to Keep Housing Costs High (again)

CB: .. The cost of building materials has grown exponentially since the pandemic, up 23% between 2020 and 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that doesn’t even factor in shipping costs to Hawaii.

“Obviously, our labor costs are up, we don’t have all the material we need and I have a ton of guys calling in sick every week,” said local contractor Lex Allen with Solid Build Construction Inc.

SIP Systems argues that its material can give builders like Allen needed wiggle room. The cost of framing is a case in point. A study conducted by BASF and RSMeans Business Solutions found builders could reduce their framing labor as much as 55% by using SIPs instead of traditional methods. And SIP Systems’ experience is bearing that out, Enomoto said.

For instance, a traditional framing system for the home the company is building in Kaimuki would take 1,200 to 1,500 man-hours to build, Enomoto said. By contrast, the framing for SIP Systems’ home took 344 man-hours or four days to build, resulting in a savings of about $50,000, he said.

The home on 10th Avenue, made entirely of structural insulated panels, went up in four days. Contractors are now working to install appliances, build interior framing and set up electric and water. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Enomoto’s company plans to have five to 10 pre-made home designs that people can choose from.

But the workers who build the homes are, understandably, not thrilled with the idea of smaller paychecks. They need the work to feed their own families and pay their own bills.

Kyle Chock, executive director of PRP, an advocacy group for union carpenters and contractors, said in a statement that technological advancements such as SIP panels could depress worker’s wages and speed up the out-migration of good paying working class jobs…..

2020: PRP Directs Hawaii County Council to Kill Factory-Built Housing Proposal

read … Pre-Fab Construction Could Be One Solution To Hawaii’s High Cost Of Housing

Sluggish NASED project looms as Hawaii bids Aloha to Aloha Stadium

KHON: … the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District has had a request for proposal pushed back to early 2022, which has yet to go out.

“We should just throw it out there and have the three developers let us know what their ideas are. They could shape the future of Aloha Stadium and sitting here waiting for some perfect document to evolve I think is a costly waste of time,” State Senator Glenn Wakai said.

NASED’s schedule has the contract award scheduled to go out later this year and construction to begin in 2023, but it’s opening remains in question.

“Probably late 2025 I think I’m not going to shy away from I’m very frustrated with the current administration and their lack of sense of urgency to get something done during their final months in an office” Wakai said. “So I’m also almost at the point where I think we just need to get a new governor in place for us to actually move this down field “

read … Sluggish NASED project looms as Hawaii bids Aloha to Aloha Stadium

Some Hawaii Agencies Are Pushing A Bill That Would Limit Public Access To Government Records

CB: … The University of Hawaii and other state agencies are asking lawmakers to make it easier to restrict public access to a whole class of government records, a move that would undermine a far-reaching ruling by the state Supreme Court in 2018.

House Bill 2303 would amend the state open records law to specifically allow public agencies to keep secret certain “drafts, internal memoranda and correspondence” and other “pre-decisional materials” that are part of the agencies’ internal decision-making processes.

The proposed new law would allow those records to be withheld from the public if disclosure “would impair the agency’s ability to make sound and fair decisions, but only to the extent that such impairment outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The bill is an attempt to roll back a decision by the state Supreme Court in Peer News LLC v. City and County of Honolulu, a case in which the court overturned 30 years of precedent and rejected the idea that agencies have a blanket  “deliberative process privilege” that can be used to withhold any agency records that are deliberative or “pre-decisional.”….

read … Some Hawaii Agencies Are Pushing A Bill That Would Limit Public Access To Government Records

Millions unspent as HPD patrol staffing lags and police actions decline

KHON: … The police union is questioning why the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) has withheld spending tens of millions of dollars from its budget in recent years, while short-staffing persists and responses to crime decline.

Always Investigating dug into years of budget and spending numbers and compared the data to staffing and enforcement trends. Quite a bit of money set aside for public safety has gone untouched.

Officer shortages, recruitment and retention are huge issues at police departments nationwide including in the islands. KHON2 found HPD has sat on a lot of money every year, leaving between $6 million to $18 million in each of the last four fiscal years unspent from its general fund budget….

Related: SHOPO: Honolulu Police Leadership Leaves Neighborhoods Unprotected

read …  Millions unspent as HPD patrol staffing lags and police actions decline

Community leaders seek to ban chronic criminals from returning to Waikiki, other resort areas--LoPresti Says Locals are Criminals

HNN: … Community leaders are backing a proposal that would ban chronic criminals who break the law in Waikiki from returning to the tourism district.

If the bill is passed, the same rules would apply to other business and resort districts. too.

The effort comes in the wake of a flurry of high-profile crimes in Waikiki over the past nine months, including an arson that destroyed a city surfboard rack and an attack that killed a tourist on the beach.

Robert Finley, chair of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, says that’s just the tip of the iceberg….

“We’ve still got a whole group of people who feel like it’s there job to steal stuff from our convenience stores, to panhandle tourists, to threaten our residents. And I think HB1502 will help,” he said.

Under the measure, those convicted of four misdemeanors in the same business district or resort area would be banned from coming back. Exactly for how long is still up for debate. Anyone caught returning would face another misdemeanor violation punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

The rules do not apply if the person convicted lives or works within the district….

“The last thing I think Hawaii wants to become is a place where there’s certain enclaves where locals aren’t allowed regardless of the reason,” said state Rep. Matt LoPresti…….

(So LoPresti is saying locals are criminals?)

It’s unclear if the measure will get much further. While it did pass its second hearing, it got an unusual number of no votes.

HB1502: Text, Status

read … Community leaders seek to ban chronic criminals from returning to Waikiki, other resort areas

Father of murder suspect calls for changes to help the mentally ill

KHON: … “He should not have been released,” said Tony Armstrong, Michael’s father. “We would’ve advocated for that from the get-go because we know our son’s progression of his illness has been increasing over time.”

Tony Armstrong says his son has been in and out of the State Hospital for the past 15 years. While he grew up as a normal child on the Big Island, he says Michael was diagnosed with behavioral problems as a teenager.

“So we would have periods where he would be in the hospital for however long, and then they would try to integrate him back into the community,” said Armstrong. “It always failed within a certain length of time.”

He says prosecutors made a critical mistake by releasing Michael and says he should have been sent to the State Hospital the night before, when officers arrested him.

“Those laws, procedures, and policies need to be reevaluated, scrapped, thrown out, rewritten, whatever because this can never happen again,” said Armstrong….

read … Father of murder suspect calls for changes to help the mentally ill

2,500 Deinstitutionalized IDD Patients About to Run out of Options

SA: … for many adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), these opportunities are about to disappear. Their parents are their caregivers. These parents are all aging. The state has very limited, not very creative, options for them when the time comes for them to leave their home and access the support system and community that they know and like. We are talking about an estimated 2,500 people….

Institutions in Hawaii were closed in 1999 so that individuals with IDD could live in their home communities, attending neighborhood schools, participating in church, and making lasting connections in the community. These individuals are now adults and need a range of appropriate living options as parents will soon be unable to care for them.

>> Appropriate living options in home neighborhoods and with age-appropriate house mates are extremely limited, and individuals can wait 10 years or more for such options, and, when a vacancy is offered, it is likely many miles from their home community. Housemates can be 25-plus years older.

>> A survey our organization did in 2018 indicated that 67% of families surveyed, who currently have an adult with IDD living with them, will need an alternative residential placement for the person in five to 10 years.

>> 71% of families report that they have made no plans for future placement….

KITV: City's homeless outreach program expanding on Oahu

read … Home sweet home: Time running out for some with disabilities

Community Rallies Against Tsuneyoshi Push to Seize Land

KHON: … Tensions are growing between a landowner and the City. The owner of property in Hauula has multiple violations against him and now faces the possibility of losing the land.

The owner of roughly 13-acres in Hauula, Hopoate Taufa said, he is willing to work with the city to fix the violations against his land. He said he wants more time before a decision is made to seize his property.

A Honolulu City Council resolution notes at least 10 violations for Taufa’s property. The violations include storing metal containers and construction vehicles without a permit and dumping construction material on wetlands inside his property.

Taufa does not deny the violations but said he is working towards fixing the issues.

Taufa said, “But now I told them I am going to comply, I am going to move everything out of here, so will keep the land as what it is supposed to be, so we won’t have an issue keep everybody happy.”

Members of the Hauula community came out to demonstrate in support of Taufa’s case.

Meanwhile, city councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi said the ongoing issues with the property pose a public hazard to the surrounding community.

She said the violations against the owner have not resulted in any solutions, therefore, taking over his land through judicial foreclosure is on the table….

“I’m asking for them one more chance because I just found out a month ago about the discussing of the eminent domain,” Taufa said. “The city council member didn’t reach out to me to come into the meeting to testify my side of the story, I wouldn’t have known about all of this.”…

The Honolulu City Council and Taufa will be discussing the future of his property on Wednesday….

HNN: Hauula businessman who faces foreclosure over unpaid fines accuses city of ‘bullying’

read … Multiple violations puts private property owner at risk of losing land

How Paradise Beverages got caught polluting Waiawa Stream

SA: … State officials traced the pollutants back to the Waipio facility in November after environmental activist Caroll Cox contacted them. Cox was made aware of the problem by an anonymous hiker who smelled alcohol from a state Department of Transportation stormwater outfall that leads to the stream.

DOT inspectors then observed employees of Paradise Beverages disposing of expired alcoholic beverages through the storm drain inlet next to the facility, according to the complaint investigation report.

During a subsequent DOH inspection, dye tests found a link between the warehouse and the stream, which lies 830 feet from the Moaniani Street facility.

Paradise Beverages was fined $75,000 and ordered to construct containment for its beverage disposal area and take other measures to protect the environment…

read … Paradise Beverages fined $75K for polluting Waiawa Stream

CNHA Buys Apartment Complex, Plans to Kick out Tenants, Jack up Rents

TGI: … “This is the first off-tribal-lands property to be owned by the SCHHA through our homestead nonprofit,” said Kaua‘i County Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i, who is also the SCHHA Policy Committee chair. “We intend to implement affordable housing rental projects in every county across the state — this is just our first!”

The sale closed on Jan. 14 after 756 days on the market.

The apartment building — located at 4277 Halenani St. in Lihu‘e — sold for $825,000 from the previous owner Jim Gair. The purchase was financed by the First Hawaiian Bank through a conventional commercial real-estate loan and an affordable housing investment provided by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation.

(CLUE: These units were already affordable.  No net gain of affordable housing from this deal paid for by RCAC.)

The units are all already occupied by tenants, who HCDC hopes will all be able to stay in their homes after a certification process.

(Translation: They will evict some tenants.)

“We have committed to not only keep rental rates affordable based on annual (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) published rates but also to rent to low-to-moderate-income tenants, typically in the 80% of area median income,” said Danner.

Area median income is calculated to be $93,400 for a family of four on Kaua‘i, so a family of four making 80% AMI would bring in $81,550 a year, according to the Kaua‘i County Housing Agency….

(Translation: There is a lot of room to hike rents.)  

SA: Native Hawaiian homestead nonprofit buys Kauai affordable rental property

read … Affordable Housing News

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