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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
August 31, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:10 PM :: 2688 Views

Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court to Not Take Up American Samoa Citizenship Case

Primary Election Challenges Rapidly Rejected by State Supreme Court

How the Jones Act Affects Puerto Rico 

Hawaii Teachers Earn 18.7% More than Average--6th Highest in USA

Green: Red Hill Gives Me Leverage to Extract Money from Military Lease Renewals

SA: … Green, the Democratic nominee, is taking a harder line, saying that the military needs to renew trust with the community in light of the Red Hill disaster in order to guarantee that those land contracts will continue.

“Our relationship, the sense of ohana, is dependent on how we treat each other, and I was very clear with the Department of Defense leadership, in a respectful way, that as they proceed with requests for lease extensions, for instance at Poha­kuloa, that in order to have a positive relationship we have to live up to our promises,” Green said.

More than a dozen military leases on lands throughout the state are set to expire in 2029 and 2030. The major military holdings span the Army, Navy and Air Force and the military has said that retaining the Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island, the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai and the Air Force’s Kaena Point station on Oahu are particularly critical to its strategic and training needs. Hawaii’s next governor is expected to wield considerable power over whether these leases will be extended.

Green said the military needs to make good on its promises to clean up Red Hill and assist with other problems facing Hawaii as a result of fuel contamination from the underground Navy facility. That potentially includes restraints on the development of new housing as a result of a reduction in the available civilian water supply.

“I was very direct,” Green said of a recent meeting with military leaders. “I said to be a member of the ohana in Hawaii, you have to take on the other challenges with us, and I am directly connecting the future relationships with the military with how well they work with us in this coming two-year period.”

Green said that it’s not a threat. “That is just the reality of working with people,” he said….

(Translation: “That is a threat.”)

TH: Families sue US over jet fuel leak that contaminated Oahu water

read … Money News

Years of Tensions at Mauna Kea May End With Payout of $1M per Year, Per Telescope

ST: … The existing telescopes currently lease their land at the rate of $1/year — a holdover from attempts in the 1970s to bolster Hawai‘i’s faltering economy following a tsunami and other challenges. (The observatories do, however, contribute $4.4 million per year to mountain maintenance, which includes everything from plowing the access road to funding the study of wēkiu insects that live among the summit’s cinder cones.) Under current agreements, the Thirty Meter Telescope would pay $1 million per year in rent once built. One can imagine similar agreements being put in place for other existing telescopes….

(NOTE: Fewer Telescopes Means Fewer Millions.)

Precisely as Explained: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read … Years of Tensions at Mauna Kea May End With Peaceful Negotiations

Honolulu Rail’s ‘Full-Blown’ Trial Running Phase Is Finally Underway

CB: … After years of delays, Honolulu rail has finally entered the rigorous, 90-day trial running phase that’s needed before the transit line’s first 10 miles can open to the public.

Project officials said the crucial, “full-blown” testing of the trains, stations, operating personnel and emergency scenarios along the westside of the line started Monday. There’s no set schedule, but the public can expect to see driverless trains moving along the elevated pathway from east Kapolei to Aloha Stadium in the coming months at any hour of the day or night, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation….

(Translation: HART expects the FTA top be done with its review of the HART ‘Recovery Plan’ before rail commences service and reveals its ridership projections to be grossly overblown.)

Any issues that occur during trial running could extend the 90-day testing period by a certain length, depending on the problem. Lori Kahikina, HART’s executive director, said in the release Tuesday that her agency aims to hand over rail’s first operational segment to the city’s Department of Transportation Services “by early next year.”

Nonetheless, the serious cracking in several of the concrete piers that support westside rail stations could complicate the city’s ability to eventually launch service – even after a successful trial run….

Consor, an engineering consultant for the city, and Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, a separate consultant for HART, are expected to deliver their findings on the root causes and solutions to the pier cracking by the end of September, according to Kahikina….

(Translation: If HART needs to keep hiding its ridership shortfall, there will be plenty of opportunities to make up an excuse.)  

Big Q: What’s your reaction to Oahu’s rail trains starting trial runs this week?

SA: HART launches rigorous rail system trial-run phase

HNN: In 2025 — interim service is scheduled to begin to Middle Street.

REALITY: Plague, Frogs, Fire and Cracks: Eleven Years of HART Excuses

read … Honolulu Rail’s ‘Full-Blown’ Trial Running Phase Is Finally Underway

Hawaii reports 1,777 new COVID-19 cases statewide

SN: … Hawaii has reported 1,777 new cases of COVID-19 within the last week, bringing the statewide total to 339,514 according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

Twelve new deaths were reported, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,644.

The bulk of the cases were reported on Oahu, with 1,246. Hawaii Island is next with 205, followed by Maui with 172, Kauai with 114, Molokai with 5, and Lanai with 2.

There were 33 cases from out-of-state visitors.

The statewide vaccination rate stands at 77.3%, with 1,099,203 residents having completed the "primary series"; 1,220,166 residents having had at least one dose; 636,865 residents having had the first booster; and 165,153 residents having had the second booster….

read … Hawaii reports 1,777 new COVID-19 cases statewide

With costs so high, keeping the lights on is an ‘exhausting’ challenge for local shops

HNN: … After Hawaiian Electric announced an increase in electricity bills citing the state’s transition away from coal, businesses are worried about their bills.

Tom Ogawa, the owner of Lighting Concepts in Honolulu, said he has never seen his electricity bill this high in the 15 years he’s been in business.

“Earlier in the year was it about $600,” Ogawa said. “And now it’s closer to $1000.” …

SA: Closing of coal plant feckless, premature

read … With costs so high, keeping the lights on is an ‘exhausting’ challenge for local shops

Hawaii police union board hikes pay, raises dues

SA: … SHOPO’s board of directors approved an increase of the monthly stipend for union president Robert Cavaco from $1,400 to $6,000. The vice president, Steven Keogh, will see his stipend increase from $800 to $5,000. Secretary John Asing and treasurer Derek Pa will see their pay increase from $800 a month to $4,000 a month.

SHOPO members will see their dues increase from $80 to $100 a month starting Thursday. By comparison, the police union in San Francisco charges members $148.60 a month and Sacramento police union members pay $130 a month….

A SHOPO membership meeting on the dues increase is scheduled for Thursday, and the increases might not be sitting well with some members.

“The promises they made during their campaign were clearly lies,” said a 10-year HPD veteran who spoke to the Star-Advertiser on the condition that he not be identified. “They betrayed our trust, and they should be removed from office. … This is outrageous.”…

In addition to top leadership, the pay for Kauai County Chapter Chair Kennison Nagahisa, Maui Chapter Chair Nicholas Krau, Hawaii Chapter Chair James “Kana” Correa and Oahu Chapter Chair Nicholas Schlapak will increase from $800 a month to $3,000 a month.

The three director-at-large positions, held by Shawn Cavaco, Christopher Calio and Carmel “Mel” Hurley will go from earning $600 a month to $1,000 a month.

Chapter vice chairs, previously uncompensated, will now receive $500 a month….

SHOPO board members do not “have full release time,” according to the email, juggling their police work with union duties, and “regularly burn” their own compensatory time and vacation time to do union work and are not reimbursed. SHOPO estimates its president and vice president spend about 128 hours a month of personal time doing union duties.

“Board members are unable to work OT shifts and special assignments for OT in order to meet their obligations to serve the membership,” according to Friday’s email. “This significantly decreases their overall take-home pay.”…

The president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and chapter chairs may not work special duty overtime shifts — only uniformed overtime shifts, the union said. Officers working special duty assignments “can work up to 96 hours a month making anywhere from $50 to $75 an hour,” the union said….

PDF: Shopo Monthly Allowance Final

read … Hawaii police union board hikes pay, raises dues 

Hawaii’s Pathetic Judiciary:  Case dismissed against man who might know location of Oahu toddler’s body

SA: … Ancog’s father, Travis Rodrigues, confessed to hitting, shaking and squeezing his daughter against his chest Feb. 4, 2021, until she was unresponsive at an Aiea home, then placing her lifeless body inside a duffel bag and allegedly leaving it with an acquaintance, Scott Michael Carter.

The 50-year-old Carter was freed Aug. 24 after a judge dismissed the first-­degree hindering prosecution case against him, and canceled his trial, which had been scheduled for this week and was set to begin this past Monday.

Circuit Judge Rowena Somerville dismissed the case without prejudice, which means the state can refile charges against him at a later date. She found the state failed to try Carter within the required time frame since he was charged Feb. 19, 2021….

The state argued it was not ready to proceed with trial because of delays in obtaining material evidence, in part, due to the death of the owner of the home where Rodrigues allegedly killed his daughter, and because Rodrigues has been uncooperative.

Defense attorney Daniel Kawamoto said Carter had fired his previous attorney, which also caused delays. Kawamoto also said there were times when Halawa wouldn’t bring Rodrigues to the prison’s video room from which defendants made their court appearances.

The delays caused more than 180 days to lapse since he was charged, and the judge tallied a total of 203 days, according to court minutes.

Carter was immediately released after the hearing at which he was present, having no other holds on him for any other charges, Kawamoto said….

As for the 42-year-old Rodrigues, aka Travis T. Heffelinger and Travis Heffelfinger, he remains in custody at Halawa, unable to post $2 million bail.

(But he too is gaming the system trying to run down the 180 day clock.)

Rodrigues, who was arrested Feb. 13, 2021, and indicted Feb. 17, 2021, pleaded not guilty March 18, 2021, to a second-degree murder charge. In addition to COVID-19 delays, his attorney asked the court on Aug. 2, 2021, for a mental evaluation. The judge ordered multiple mental examinations of Rodrigues to determine his fitness to proceed to trial.

On March 3, the court minutes show some of the examiners were unable to render an opinion on his fitness because Rodrigues refused to participate in the evaluation.

Then on May 19, Rodrigues refused to be transported to the hearing room at Halawa for the hearing, and two of the three examiners had not been able to complete their reports, so the hearing was rescheduled for July 14.

But due to a scheduling conflict, it was continued to Sept. 29….

read … Case dismissed against man who might know location of Oahu toddler’s body

Aloha Petroleum Sues Insurance Co to Pay for Global Warming Lawsuit Defense

RN: … AIG’s National Union Fire Insurance Company has been sued by Sunoco subsidiary Aloha Petroleum for refusing to cover the costs of defending climate-related claims by local governments in Hawaii.

It’s thought that this case could set a precedent as to whether firms are protected against climate damage claims, as more insurers seek to refuse cover for climate litigation of this kind.

Earlier this year, Everest faced a similar lawsuit concerning whether its coverage could be denied to fossil fuel firm Gulf Oil.

Documents from the new Aloha case suggest that the company has already incurred more than $880,000 in defence costs, and expects these to grow significantly as litigation progresses….

read … AIG sued by petroleum firm in climate litigation dispute

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