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Sunday, August 7, 2022
August 7, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:00 PM :: 5220 Views

HSTA Forced to Stop Enrolling Hawaii Teachers in Illegal For-Profit Education Scheme

Addressing the Tax Crisis in Health Care

When bureaucracy grows, housing does not

Hawaii is the most difficult state to buy a home

Honolulu Average Studio Apartment Rent $2,705

States Where Unemployment Claims Are Decreasing the Most--Hawaii 45th

Kauai: Highest car rental rates in Hawaii

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted August 6, 2022

Blangiardi: “I can’t imagine going to jail right now, and nor do I want to go to jail.”

CB: (Blangiardi) … I pause about how (DPP Director) Dean (Uchida)’s doing is because he’s facing not just management challenges, but he’s facing — as evidenced by five people who were arrested — also that element, that culture of things just being done for personal favors, who’s looked the other way, who was accepting money? You know, I’m not going to point a finger at any one person, but we’ve come to learn that that’s true….

the taint, if you will, of criminal corruption on top of that, and not even knowing how deep that goes. That’s his challenge.

However, if you were to say to me what keeps me up at night? That’s right up there.

The corruption in the DPP. The entrenched problem that’s there.

It’s hard for me to evaluate how entrenched that is. I’m looking at it right now on how do we solve the fact that people have got to wait inordinate amounts of time and time is money.

So I’ve been quite honestly less focused on the corruption, and more on how do we bring in new people? How do we bring in new technology that’s absolutely needed? How do we reorganize, restructure the department? Because it’s been in a place where we know it’s just not working. We’ve been more focused on that, waiting to be able to make those investments, which we’re at now.

And we’ll see how that impacts whatever element might be there. Because as you can say to me, (there’s ) “a culture of corruption.”

I can take you on a walk-through. And I think I would say to you, who do you think is a bad person here, who is a good person? I’m not going to do that. You walk through those departments, you’ve got a lot of very nice, hardworking people. You don’t know.

So I’m not going to start accusing people. At the same time I’m not going to deny that that existed. So let’s talk about things that will really help the greater good….

(Question) Just to follow up on the DPP corruption thing. How big of a deal is the perception of corruption at the city for you? At the state level, they have this new commission that’s trying to come up with different reforms. But I do think that people have an impression that the city is perhaps just as bad. Are you dealing with countering this perception of corruption at the city level. And also if there’s anything you think the city needs to do, the same way the Legislature is working on different ideas.

(Blangiardi) At our first cabinet meeting, (managing director) Mike Formby put up a slide — it was done through a city audit, it’s done every year — on where trust was in local city government, and it was down to 17%. That was a starting point. Didn’t talk about corruption. Just a starting point. It had been much higher not that many years ago….

I’ve chosen not to focus on the corruption part. Because as I said earlier, I don’t have any way or wherewithal or means to go in there and find out who has done what.

…But I can tell you on a going-forward basis, I will be absolutely unforgiving towards anyone found in any form of corruption should that make itself known.

And the zero tolerance aspect of that is also something you breathe in from a leadership standpoint. So I was very vocal about the five people who were arrested. And for that matter, the sentencing of the one woman, which I think is really tragic at 72 years old, since I could relate to that. Imagine what that must be like to go to jail at this stage of life. It’s the antithesis of what I just told you about how I feel my job is. I can’t imagine going to jail right now, and nor do I want to go to jail.

To me, it’s about staying focused on the positive and not the negative…

… we talk a lot about regaining trust in things that we can do to build hope. So I am focused on that. And not on the corruption….

read … The Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi

Lawmakers Don't Seem Interested In Doing Anything About Corruption

CB: … Candidate Q&A responses from incumbents and challengers in Hawaii's legislative races suggest many don’t fully embrace reform….

Because of all the political corruption cases of late — from the Kealoha saga that began several years ago but continues and on through the Cullen-English bribery cases just this spring — Civil Beat editors gave particular attention to questions about ethics reform and open governance. That’s why we asked about lobbying, the Sunshine and open records laws, fundraising, transparency and accountability.

The answers range broadly, but some patterns emerge — including a disappointing trend from incumbent legislators who largely declined to be specific about what the Legislature should do.

Instead, many responses were similar to House Speaker Scott Saiki, who said in his questionnaire, “Following the legislative corruption indictments, I asked the House to create an independent commission to assess and recommend improvements to our ethics laws.”

Saiki concluded the Q&A section on reform with this sentence: “The House has asked the Foley Commission to assess these topics and I am awaiting its final recommendations.”

Saiki deserves credit for forming the commission, and for completing the Q&A — something Senate President Ron Kouchi skipped entirely.

But it feels like a dodge, one that a number of other lawmakers also took.

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, for example: “I will take a look at what the House commission suggests and any recommendations from my own community.”…

Many legislators also singled out for praise the passage of Senate Bill 555 banning fundraisers during session.

“It passed the Legislature, because I believe no fundraisers should be held while we are voting on bills,” said Rep. John Mizuno.

The problem with SB 555 is that it does not actually ban receiving funds during session — the very same time frame in which special interests are trying to influence the outcome of legislation….

Leg office holders accepted half-a-million dollars worth of campaign cash during the 2022 session even as there were calls to end the practice….

As Explained March, 2022: “The purpose of the Commission is to dissipate reform energy in order to preserve the status quo.” 

read … Lawmakers Don't Seem Interested In Doing Anything About Corruption

Hey Oahu, Your Electric Bill Is About To Go Up 7%

CB: … Oahu households can expect to see their monthly electricity bills increase by about 7% when Hawaiian Electric Co. shuts down the state’s last remaining coal-fired power plant on Sept. 1 and replaces it with another fossil fuel source: oil.

The local utility released that official estimate Sunday. It represents an additional $15 for what Hawaiian Electric considers its “typical” user – a customer or family that consumes 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month. ….

(An extra $700/mo for a typical $10K monthly business or industrial electric bill.)

A 2020 state law prevented the plant from renewing its power purchase agreement once it expired this year and banned all future use of coal across the state…

with few new renewables ready to go, Hawaiian Electric will have to resort to more imported oil for the time being to help power Hawaii’s most populous island. It’s poor timing, however, as oil prices have surged this year amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine…

Currently, oil costs about 30 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 6 cents for coal and 9 to 13 cents for solar, according to Hawaiian Electric….

Hawaiian Electric has not released an estimated date or year for when it expects renewable energy sources to completely offset what was being generated at AES….

KHON: HECO said customers may see the impact reflected in the October bill. 

SA: 7% surge in Oahu electric bills projected next month


read … Hey Oahu, Your Electric Bill Is About To Go Up

To curtail dirty political campaigning, don’t help it succeed

Shapiro: … In the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, the Hawaii Carpenters Union super PAC is sponsoring similar attacks against front-runner Sylvia Luke to support the union’s endorsed candidate, Ikaika Anderson. Keith Amemiya and Sherry Menor-McNamara also are running.

The ads by Be Change Now use old-fashioned mudslinging to darkly and vaguely tie Luke to indicted businessman Martin Kao — who also donated to candidates endorsed by the carpenters. The disjointed attacks heave words like “scandal” and “money laundering” at Luke.

There’s no sign Anderson solicited the ad support in the same way as Branco, but neither does he disavow it.

“As I’ve had to justify my prior votes and actions, so should everyone else,” said Anderson, who’s had to deal with questions about why he quit his City Council seat in 2020 saying he needed to care for his grandparents, then took a job as a union lobbyist….

read … To curtail dirty political campaigning, don’t help it succeed

Votes trickling in with one week left: Here’s what you need to know

HTH: … With about a week left to vote on national, state and local races, a little more than 11% of the 112,630 Hawaii Island ballots mailed out have already been returned, and 19% of the 739,000 mailed ballots statewide, according to election officials.

Voters still have numerous options to vote between now and when the last person in line at polling places at 7 p.m. Saturday casts their ballot….

Borreca: With mail-in balloting, expect primary election results earlier rather than later

CB: Please, Office Of Elections, Do The Math For Us On Primary Night

SA Editorial: Review your choices, pick your candidates

read … Votes trickling in with one week left: Here’s what you need to know

40% of HIDOE students being taught by unqualified educators

SA: … Given the increase of over 25% in teachers leaving the HIDOE in the 2020-21 school year from the year prior, the need for change cannot be understated. The issue has manifested in approximately 40% of HIDOE students being taught by unqualified educators. Perhaps you’ve even seen the impact in your children’s classrooms….

“There has been a cultural shift to people not respecting teachers,” explained one educator. Many individuals no longer regard teaching as a respectable profession…

read … Money isn’t magic: Supporting Hawaii’s teachers beyond pay

Navy divers describe conditions within the contaminated Red Hill well and how the mission affected them

SA: … For three months members of the Pearl Harbor-based Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One worked inside the Navy’s contaminated Red Hill water well, becoming unlikely front-line responders to the crisis.

The mission was personal.

While they navigated a taxing assignment using bulky equipment in hazardous conditions, some of the members of MDSU1 also had family who had gotten sick at home from the fuel spill and still struggle with symptoms….

SA Column: Protect Hawaii’s water supply before it’s too late

read … Navy divers describe conditions within the contaminated Red Hill well and how the mission affected them

Affordable homes over a new stadium

SA: … In a recent survey by Community First Hawaii, 52% of respondents reported reducing their food and grocery budgets for financial reasons. Those are basic necessities that people are cutting back on.

By contrast, the state has funded a new stadium, which is an example of discretionary spending. Government should not be spending $400 million on something that is not needed….

read … Affordable homes over a new stadium

Council Bill Proposed to Restore The O‘ahu Historic Preservation Commission

HH: …A measure to reestablish the O‘ahu Historic Preservation Commission for the City & County of Honolulu will have first reading at the City Council meeting on August 10. Bill 44, relating to the Oʻahu Historic Preservation Commission, was introduced by Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina on July 15, 2022, and cosponsored by Council Chair Tommy Waters….

Bill 44: Text, Status

read … Council Bill Proposed to Restore The O‘ahu Historic Preservation Commission

CNMI indigenous groups back controversial Insular Cases

GPDN: … the Northern Marianas Descent Corporation and the United Carolinians Association, in their July 13 brief to the Supreme Court, argue that the Insular Cases are important to protecting indigenous land in the Northern Marianas by allowing federal law to work differently in the territories….

Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year stated he is looking for an opportunity for the court to overrule the Insular Cases, which he said, “rest on a rotten foundation.”

The indigenous groups asked the court to reject Fitisemanu’s petition or to leave the Insular Cases untouched if they decide to grant the petition….

Fitisemanu in April petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case. If justices grant the petition later this year, the court could decide whether the U.S. Constitution and federal laws should be fully applied to the U.S. territories or if Congress can continue to make exceptions and exemptions for the territories….

2018: American Samoa Citizenship Question Not So Simple

read … CNMI indigenous groups back controversial Insular Cases

Hawaii Governor Candidate’s Hawaiian Homelands Remark Touches A Nerve With Some

CB: … Former Gov. John Waihee, who was campaign chairman for Green and Gov. David Ige in the 2018 general election, said Green’s account of his mother-in-law dying on the waitlist was notable enough that it is the only thing he remembers about Green’s presentation at the state Democratic convention last spring.

It was clearly a pitch aimed at Hawaiian voters, said Waihee, who was the state’s first Hawaiian governor.

“If she didn’t die on the list, then they should immediately correct that because there are a lot of people whose relatives did die waiting on that list,” Waihee said. “I don’t know what to tell you except you shouldn’t say those kinds of things if they aren’t real.”

Not everyone sees Green’s misstatement as a big deal. Robin Puanani Danner, who is chair of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, described any controversy over Green’s error as “a nothing-burger.” She called the whole discussion “irrelevant” and “intrusive.”

“It’s nothing at all,” she said. “My God, every one of us as Hawaiians has a mother, a father, a grandmother, a grandfather, a great-grandmother, a great-grandfather who was eligible for Hawaiian homes.”

Danner said she does not distinguish between 50% Hawaiians who are on the waitlist or not on the waitlist, in part because the Kalima litigation revealed the state deliberately made it difficult for Hawaiians to sign up. Yvonne Makaimoku may well have been one of those who were effectively barred from signing up, she said.

Eligibility for beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act is not determined by whether or not a person in on the waitlist, she said. In fact, a number of funds were created to support beneficiaries of the act, and the act does not say people have to be on any waitlist to qualify for those benefits, she said….

read … Hawaii Governor Candidate’s Hawaiian Homelands Remark Touches A Nerve With Some

Another Book About Trannies--And Yes, It’s Aimed at Children Age 4-8

SA: … Hamer said the authors didn’t intend to create a film aimed at children.

(IQ Test: Do you believe them?)

They wanted to tell a universal story, a Hawaiian legend, in the most understandable way for people of all ages. However, film festival programmers, publishers and librarians felt it would appeal to younger audiences (ages 4 to 8), and Hamer sees the advantage.

“Children are always our best audience because they’re the ones who will pass the story on and are important for the next generation. And children are in many ways the most open-minded to this story because when they hear about these amazing people who are part male and part female, they’re like: Oh cool — that’s magic, that’s something wonderful! And they don’t have the preconception that it’s something that should be questioned or whatever.”…

read … Children’s book tells legend of Kapaemahu monument about sacred stones and mahu healers

Third-party audit critical of Kauai County’s Roads Division

TGI: … An audit conducted by Spire Hawai‘i LLP reported that the county Department of Public Works Roads Division did not have “the necessary and qualified staff” to perform maintenance projects it is responsible for.

The report, discussed at the Kaua‘i County Council meeting Wednesday, was also critical of the division’s lack of standard operating procedures and measurable outcomes.

“I would portray this as ‘we’re winging it,’” ….

PDF: Audit Report

read … Third-party audit critical of county’s Roads Division

Excuses Homeless Meth Addicts Make

HTH: … The two most stated reasons (55%) that led to being unsheltered were (meth-related) conflicts with family or with housemates and inability to pay rent (because they spent their money on meth). Others told volunteers that they had lost their jobs (because of meth), had a medical emergency in the family (typical meth story), or had a chronic disability (like meth addiction). Some told volunteers they suffered from mental illness (like meth addiction), had been incarcerated (for selling meth), or had substance addictions. (Wow.  One honest answer.)  One person shared that his house burned down (due to meth lab explosion). Another lost his land (typical meth story); another was saving money to buy land (typical meth story). For a few people, living unsheltered was preferable to being housed in an unsafe living situation (with other meth addicts). …

read … Excuses and Stories

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