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Wednesday, July 13, 2022
July 13, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:54 PM :: 3212 Views

Ige Vetoes 28 of 30 Bills on 'Intent to Veto' List

Hawaii’s love-hate relationship with tourism

DBEDT: More Taxpayer Money Going to High Tech Schemers

State Tax Receipts up 34.8%

HD44 Candidate Running Under Fake Name Hides Past

CB: … Jonathan Lee is a Democrat vying for the newly drawn House District 44 seat in West Oahu. He faces Democrat Darius Kila in the Aug. 13 primary and the winner will go up against Republican Kimberly Kopetseg in the Nov. 8 general election….

While a search for “Jonathan Lee” does indeed turn up a campaign website — he’s a resident of Waianae and a retired military veteran — it says nothing about the fact that Lee’s real name is Jonathan Lee Stremel. Same goes for the candidate Q&A that Stremel submitted to Civil Beat under the name Lee.

Google “Jon Stremel,” however, and you will find two articles in Civil Beat from 2021 raising questions about a Navy sailor named Jon Stremel, his estranged civilian wife (now divorced) and allegations of domestic abuse and discrimination….

read … Hawaii Voters Should Know Exactly Who They Are Voting For

Rail Warning: Bus Ridership Off 41% from Pre-COVID Days

HNN: … More than two years after the start of the pandemic, ridership on the city bus is still only about half of what it was.

According to the city’s Department of Transportation Services TheBus currently has about 115,000 daily riders. That’s down from 195,000 prior to the pandemic ― a 41% decline.

(CLUE: This is the future of Rail ridership.)

“So we still have a long way to go to recover our ridership,” said Roger Morton, Transportation Services director.

Right now, there are plans to restructure some routes in an effort to help schools cope with bus driver shortages.

read … With no ridership rebound in sight, city bus system plans route changes

Honolulu Rail Whistleblower: Tracks, Wheels A Maintenance Nightmare And Potential Safety Issue

CB: … A  track consultant pressed HART officials for two years for the rail agency to make key changes that would make the system safer and more operable. They dismissed him in February….

fundamental flaws in the track crossings and train wheels remain, according to a project whistleblower and longtime track industry expert.

That’s despite the relatively cheap and quick fixes that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation recently took to address those problems.

The lingering issues will leave the city with tracks and wheels that will be incredibly difficult to maintain once the system opens and potentially present a safety problem in the long term, said David Walker, who worked on the Honolulu project as a track construction consultant for the firm Stantec from February 2020 through February 2022….

“This design lends itself to not being maintained properly,” said Walker, who’s spent five decades in the rail industry.

“I want Hawaii to have a safe, maintainable system. My problem … is that HART doesn’t make decisions in a timely manner. The decisions they do make are not cost-effective.”…

Honolulu’s track layout and wheel dimensions don’t follow industry standards, the design tolerances where the tracks cross paths are too tight, and the tracks’ individual crossing points, called “frogs” in the rail industry, are fundamentally flawed, he detailed in several interviews.

Those issues, which affect the five double-crossing sites on rail’s west-side, could over time lead to what Walker described as “malfunctions, incidents,” and, in a worst-case scenario, “derailments” if not resolved….

Honolulu will still face maintenance challenges compared to other major U.S. metro systems, according to Walker.

That’s because HART and its engineers made piecemeal changes to the tracks and wheels as they learned of different problems with their alignment, according to Walker.

“If you change one thing, it affects four others,” he explained. “None of it works together.”

That domino effect, plus HART’s insistence on using so-called “flange-bearing” frogs instead of the more commonly used “tread-bearing” frogs used in most U.S. metro systems, has left Honolulu having to maintain track tolerances that Walker said are tighter than anything he’s ever seen….

Walker said, his suggestion two years ago to swap the wheels with more readily-available standard ones plus replace the frogs would have cost HART and the city around $3 million total based on the prices that vendors and shippers quoted him….

read … Honolulu Rail Whistleblower: Tracks, Wheels A Maintenance Nightmare And Potential Safety Issue

Bishop Museum president to resign amid internal flap

SA: … Financial support for Bishop Museum may be in jeopardy and the institution’s reputation is tainted after the board of directors decided to take a human resource issue and “blow the museum up with it,” according to outgoing President and CEO Melanie Ide.

Ide told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an interview that she gave the museum’s board of directors until 5 p.m. Tuesday to agree to meet with her and discuss concerns about the work environment that were raised by employees. The board did not respond to her, and Ide said she is finalizing her letter of resignation.

“It’s amateurish and it’s wrong. There is no reason we can’t get it fixed. It is insane what is going on. I don’t care if you’re a $25 donor or a $25 million donor, that confidence in the museum has been damaged,” said Ide in an interview. “It (the museum) is an extremely special and unique place that deserves so much more than it is getting now. This is an unfortunate moment, but it doesn’t define who the museum is. Unfortunately, this is the legacy of this board. They decided to take an HR (human resource) issue and blow the museum up with it because they couldn’t see … the bigger picture. We could have solved this problem together. We really could have. I think they put themselves in a legal box, got in it, and … ‘we’re not going to change our strategy.’ They didn’t say, ‘Well, is this worth losing their CEO?’ I guess they thought it wasn’t worth coming to the table and having a conversation. I don’t know why that is so hard. The board owns this.”…

Ide said she heard from Gov. David Ige and various state lawmakers who expressed concern about $17.5 million in state funding for the coming year, operations and leadership moving forward.

That money includes $7.5 million for operations and $10 million for capital improvement projects to cover deferred maintenance, fire protection, infrastructure upgrades and security, “whether from cyber, human, animal, or natural forces,” and other needs, according to a news release following the 2022 legislative session in May. Ide said she was scheduled for a meeting on federal funding for the nonprofit museum with U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, before she was unexpectedly put on leave.

She also said a new vice president is slated to start at a time of extreme executive turbulence…. 

SA Column: Crisis of leadership, opportunity for aloha at Bishop Museum

HNN: Bishop Museum CEO says she wants answers from board about why she was put on leave  

HNN: Supporters worried about Bishop Museum’s future with top leaders on leave amid probe

read … Bishop Museum president to resign amid internal flap

Judge continues trial for Honolulu's former top prosecutor, 4 others in alleged bribery scheme

KITV: … A Hawaii judge has ruled to continue the trial for Honolulu's former top prosecutor and four others in an alleged bribery scheme

US Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter ordered Tuesday that the trial be pushed a month later to September.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for August.

In June, a US Grand Jury indicted Keith Kaneshiro and four others, alleging that employees of an engineering and architectural firm bribed Kaneshiro with campaign donations in exchange for Kaneshiro' prosecution of a former company employee.

HNN: Judge postpones corruption trial of ex-city prosecutor, 4 alleged co-conspirators

read … Judge continues trial for Honolulu's former top prosecutor, 4 others in alleged bribery scheme

Hawaii Health Department reports 4,464 new infections; 11 coronavirus-related deaths

SA: … The Hawaii Department of Health today reported 4,464 new COVID-19 infections over the past week, higher than the number reported the previous week. The new infections bring the total since the start of the pandemic to 317,540 cases.

DOH also reported 11 more deaths, bringing the state’s coronavirus-related death toll to 1,535.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases, however, was reported at 558 compared to 651 reported on July 6, representing a continued downward trend for the sixth week in a row. The average reflects new cases per day from July 2 to 8, which includes the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when testing rates declined….

read … Hawaii Health Department reports 4,464 new infections; 11 coronavirus-related deaths

Indoor masking optional at Hawaii public schools starting Aug. 1

SA: … Indoor masking will become optional in Hawaii’s 257 regular public schools starting Aug. 1, under a recommendation from the state Department of Health announced today.

Until then, universal masking continues to be the rule in the public schools for current summer programs.

Starting with the new school year, masks will be “highly recommended” when rates of COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations are medium or high by CDC standards, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble….

HNN: Customer throws fit at Honolulu spa over masking, accuses them of being ‘discriminant’

CB: Indoor Masks Will Be Optional At Hawaii Public Schools

read … Indoor masking optional at Hawaii public schools starting Aug. 1

Judge: Man left homeless after wrongful prosecution can seek another civil claim against city

HNN: … An Oahu man left homeless after being jailed and wrongfully prosecuted for drug crimes is celebrating another legal victory.

A federal judge says Sefo Fatai’s malicious prosecution claim against the city can move to trial.

Fatai was homeless and living in a truck in 2020 when Hawaii News Now caught up with him at Neal S. Blaisdell Park in Aiea. He’d lost his job as a mechanic, lost his Waianae apartment, and his girlfriend left him after police said he was dealing drugs.

He was jailed for more than three years.

In that time, prosecutors took him to trial four times on the drug charge, but failed to get a conviction ….

read … Judge: Man left homeless after wrongful prosecution can seek another civil claim against city

Court Rejects Anti-Telescope protester challenge of police presence at Mauna Kea

KITV: … The intermediate court of appeals determined that mutual aid between police departments of different counties is allowed under Hawaii law….

SA: Police jurisdiction challenge rejected again

read … Court affirms ruling about Hawaii man's challenge of police officer presence at TMT site at Mauna Kea

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