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Sunday, October 2, 2022
October 2, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:41 PM :: 2791 Views

More Endorsements for Sam King for OHA Trustee

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted October 1, 2022

A New Source of Wealth for the Hawaiian People

Three Years to Spend $600 Million

Drunk With Power: Lopresti DUI Dismissed--Just Like Sharon Har

SA: … On June 16, LoPresti was in the shoulder lane with his vehicle hazard lights flashing when Honolulu police Sgt. Steven Chun pulled up to check on the situation. According to documents in the case, LoPresti (who already has one DUI) had stopped because he and his wife in the passenger seat were having a disagreement.

Chun reported asking LoPresti if he was OK, and that LoPresti’s vehicle rolled forward two times, once after Chun told LoPresti to stay where he was. LoPresti claimed in a court filing that Chun said the shoulder lane was a bike route and, therefore, LoPresti believed he was being instructed to move ahead.

After more interaction, Chun said he noticed LoPresti’s eyes were “red, watery, and glassy” and that his breath smelled of alcohol, according to the officer’s report.

LINK: Bodycam Video Rep Matt LoPresti DUI Arrest

Chun asked LoPresti multiple times if he would voluntarily participate in a field sobriety test, according to evidence filed in the case. In response, LoPresti asked why it was relevant, stated that he didn’t do anything wrong, denied there was probable cause for a test, and ultimately refused the test until being placed under arrest.

A little over three hours later, a blood test administered to LoPresti showed that he an alcohol content level of 0.139, which is above the 0.08 legal limit in Hawaii, according to court documents.

LoPresti’s attorney, Alen Kaneshiro, contended in court that police lacked probable cause to arrest, draw blood from and charge his client.

Kaneshiro said in a written motion to dismiss the case that alcohol odor along with red and glassy eyes may amount to reasonable suspicion that a suspect was driving while impaired, but that such observations don’t amount to probable cause for an arrest.

Kaneshiro also said that LoPresti’s refusal to take the field sobriety test could not be treated as probable cause for arrest because LoPresti wasn’t refusing the standard field sobriety test, or SFST, to avoid failure.

“The purported ‘refusal’ of the SFST was not a refusal,” Kaneshiro said in the filing. “Defendant was challenging (Chun’s) basis for stopping him and asking him to participate in an SFST … .”

(IQ Test: Would this so-called ‘argument’ work if Lopresti were not a Legislator?)

At a Sept. 2 hearing, District Court Judge Sherri-Ann Iha granted LoPresti’s motion to dismiss the case and filed a written order Sept. 16.

Years of Alcoholic Rage:

read … Legislative Impunity

Ige gets it right on new Aloha Stadium in his final days

Shapiro: … Don’t we wish somebody had slammed the brakes and reset Honolulu rail early on, when the project was sputtering and obviously heading toward the costly disaster it’s become?

The stadium shows alarming signs of a similar grim fate.

It started as a sleazy gut-and-replace deal in the 2019 Legislature, after lawmakers couldn’t pass it through the regular order of public hearings and three votes in each house.

Legislators married the new stadium to a commercial entertainment district on the property, a giveaway to developers and contractors that would yield a hotel, tony restaurants, upscale retail and little of the affordable housing Oahu desperately needs.

Nearly every session since, lawmakers led by district Sen. Glenn Wakai have sloppily changed the plan.

They initially allocated $350 million for the project, then cut it to $175 million another year before upping it to $400 million this year.

Oversight was originally given to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which governs Kakaako, then abruptly switched the next year to the Aloha Stadium Authority, which has no experience building a stadium — much less an entertainment district — and poorly managed the old stadium.

Ultimately, the Department of Accounting and General Services took the lead until the Legislature pulled another switcheroo this year and assigned the project to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Neither has relevant experience with public-private partnerships.

Amid all this the Stadium Authority closed the existing stadium without warning, leaving University of Hawaii football homeless and in danger of losing Division I status. The initially promised 2023 opening of a new stadium has slipped to 2027 at the earliest.

Growing numbers of fed-up citizens, and three former governors, have called for devoting the Halawa site primarily to workforce housing.

But DAGS and the Stadium Authority are defying Ige and lobbying gubernatorial candidates Josh Green and Duke Aiona, one of whom will take over in 10 weeks, to revive their PPP scheme.

DAGS lead Chris Kinimaka ludicrously suggests $400 million, well more than other recent stadiums have cost, isn’t enough.

Nothing good can come from this chaos.

Ige hasn’t detailed his plan, and as a lame duck won’t have final say, but he’s right a new stadium must be simplified and divorced from surrounding development….

read … Ige gets it right on new Aloha Stadium in his final days

Aloha Stadium redevelopment suffers from muddled leadership

SA: … in the languishing effort to replace Aloha Stadium — Hawaii’s largest sports and entertainment venue — there’s been no individual driving force for the estimated $400 million project that’s been in the works for over a decade as the anchor to an envisioned New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District to include retail, restaurants, a hotel, housing and more all adjacent to a city rail station and delivered in partnership with private developers.

NASED has lacked a leader with a lot of pull.

“You need a conductor there really driving the deal,” said Stanford Carr, a local developer and partner in one of two private development teams that in January qualified to bid on redeveloping 73 acres surrounding the site for a new, roughly 35,000-seat stadium. “There was no real champion doing it.”

In San Diego the new 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium, which includes planned ancillary real estate development connected to rail, opened in September as a result of an effort led by San Diego State University’s athletic director, John David Wicker.

In Halawa a cast of players has been trying to replace the 47-year-old stadium nicknamed the Rust Palace, which was condemned for spectator use nearly two years ago and now has a forecast delivery of 2027 instead of 2023.

>> RELATED: San Diego’s new multiuse facility offers a glimpse of what is possible for Hawaii

This cast has been a sometimes muddy blend of state lawmakers, the Stadium Authority, the Department of Accounting and General Services, the Hawaii Community Development Authority and paid consultants, including design and planning firm Crawford Architects, project management firm WT Partnership, law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP and public relations firm CommPac.

In June the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism got added to the mix.

The result has been a project beset by numerous delays, back-steps and uncertainty despite a lot of good-faith effort and close to $25 million in taxpayer money spent to date.

On Sept. 21, Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff, Linda Chu Takayama, told DAGS not to proceed with its repeatedly postponed issuance of two requests for proposals seeking bids from developers to replace the stadium and create a new surrounding mixed-use community.

“It’s just drawn out,” Carr said before Takayama’s directive became public. “Too many cooks in the kitchen.” ….

Borreca: After years of clear need for new stadium, 11th-hour fumble creates chaos over game plan

SA: Tale of two stadiums: San Diego’s new multiuse facility offers glimpse of what’s possible for Hawaii

read … Aloha Stadium redevelopment suffers from muddled leadership

Kaua‘i Council finds new way to make housing even more unaffordable--Require Houses to be built on Stilts

TGI: … A bill up for final vote at the Kaua‘i County Council Wednesday, Oct, 5, 2022, could put Kaua‘i at the vanguard of sea-level-rise adaptation by requiring all new construction in areas at risk of sea-level rise be elevated on stilts.

(IQ Test: Is this really about sea-level rise?)

(Tougher IQ Test: What is the real purpose?)

Draft Bill No. 2879, submitted by the county Planning Department, would require the lowest floor of new, habitable buildings in the sea-level-rise-constraint district be raised two feet above the highest projected sea-level-rise flood elevation.

New, non-habitable buildings would need to be raised one foot above that projection. The new restrictions would also apply to significant rebuilds of existing structures, where the cumulative cost equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the building.

If passed and signed by Mayor Derek Kawakami, Kaua‘i will become one of the first municipalities to use long-term climate-change research to regulate building construction….

(CLUE: Environmentalism is a system to jack up the cost of living.)

The County Council will convene at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, at the Historic County Building second-floor council chambers, 4396 Rice St. in Lihu‘e….

REALITY FOR THE FEW WHO CAN HANDLE IT:

read … Kaua‘i County Council to vote on historic sea-level-rise-adaptation bill

School Impact Fees: Another Way to Make Housing More Expensive

SA: … Howard Hughes Corp., which is developing the Ward Village high-rise condominium community in Kaka­ako, is charging buyers of units in one recently completed tower and four planned towers $3,864 on top of the condo purchase price to recoup what it previously paid to the state as a school impact fee.

The developer first added this fee to closing costs paid by condo buyers at Ko‘ula, a 565-unit tower where initial residents who completed their purchases were welcomed Sept. 14….

Kakaako is part of a school impact fee district established in 2018 that stretches from Kalihi to Ala Moana near planned city rail stations to accommodate an estimated 10,000 students expected to enroll in urban Honolulu schools as development swells along much of the rail route with an expected 39,000 new homes.

Production of 39,000 new homes would generate about $150 million for the state Department of Education and a new School Facilities Authority in charge of school development.

The district is one of five with such fees across the state. The first was established in 2010 covering western parts of Hawaii island, followed by Central Maui and West Maui the same year and Leeward Oahu areas of Aiea, Pearl City, Waipahu, Ewa and Kapolei in 2013.

Fee amounts vary by district. For instance, the Leeward Oahu fee is $5,504 for every single-family home and $4,334 for every townhome….

Urban Honolulu’s district fee was set at $3,864 after much debate and proposed higher amounts of $5,858 and $9,374 per unit.

DOE’s fee applies to every new home built in the district, and the fee gets paid by developers before they can begin construction. Developers of projects with more than 50 units can seek to contribute land and/or cash.

Through April, DOE reported having $14.3 million in impact fee payments statewide, mainly from the Leeward Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island districts. The urban Honolulu district fee balance was about $630,000.

Because application of the fee is timed to certain government entitlements, several towers in the urban Honolulu district built after 2018 weren’t subject to the fee, including ‘A‘ali‘i, which was the fifth tower completed at Ward Village when it opened last year….  

SA Editorial: Clearing the air on impact fees

read … Ward Village builder charges buyers separate fee to cover school impact assessment

Could fewer fees help physician shortage? Organization pushes elimination of GET on medical services

HTH: … Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a nonprofit policy research organization, hosted its first Hilo-based presentation on Thursday about how to attract younger health care providers, sustain current staff, and create financial incentives to keep medical professionals in Hawaii.

“We’ve had a shortage of health care providers for as long as I can remember,” said Dr. Scott Grosskreutz, radiologist and head of the Hawaii Physician Shortage Crisis Task Force. “On the Big Island, we had a 53% shortage of doctors, meaning we had less than half of what we were projected to need.”

In addition to the high cost of living, housing prices, a nationwide shortage of health care professionals and burnout from COVID-19, a key concern among the group is the fees and reimbursement rates associated with Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE patients, which together account for over 50% of patients in Hawaii.

“One of the problems that we have is this very, very low rate of Medicare reimbursement in the state of Hawaii,” said Grosskreutz, who noted Medicare and Medicaid are about to cut reimbursements by 8.5% by 2023….

One proposed financial solution from Grassroot Institute is to eliminate the General Excise Tax, or GET, on medical services for group and private practice physicians, with Hawaii being the only state that taxes medical services in this way.

“One of the things we can do here to really help is pass GET reform,” said Grosskreutz, who noted the county rate is 4.7%. “We’ve had a number of candidates from both parties that are supportive of the idea.”

In 2020, Senate Bill 2542 proposed exempting medical services by primary care providers from the GET, which would have placed private providers on an equal playing field as hospitals and other nonprofits in Hawaii that are currently exempt from paying the GET.

The bill noted these forms of taxation already “disproportionately and adversely affect low-income and middle class families struggling to cope with the state’s high cost of living.”

While the bill made its way through the Senate, passing 25-0, it failed to get through the House, with Grosskreutz citing the chaos of the pandemic as a main cause for its failure….

read … Could fewer fees help physician shortage? Organization pushes elimination of GET on medical services

‘It’s for everybody’: Hundreds turn out for Waipio Valley ocean access rally

HNN: … Hundreds of Big Island resident turned out today for a rally at the Waipio Valley Lookout, urging the county to ensure access to the valley and its nearby coastlines.

The rally was organized by Malama I Ke Kai O Waipio, which has sued the county to reopen the Waipio Valley Road.

“We’ve seen the ocean access taken away for private interests. Just don’t want that to happen here. It’s under our Constitution — it’s for everybody and we want to keep it that way,” said Steve Strauss of Malama I Ke Kai O Waipio….

The Waipio Valley Ohana recently set up “kupuna checkpoints” at the top of the roadway to keep most people out….

Residents said that access will happen, but perhaps not right away. They plan to keep the kupuna checkpoint going through October.

“We don’t not want to share it,” said Gamayo. “So as far as how long — I don’t know.”…

HTH: Groups gather peacefully, try to find common ground on Waipi‘o Valley access 

read … ‘It’s for everybody’: Hundreds turn out for Waipio Valley ocean access rally

The mysterious disappearances on Hawaii’s Napali Coast and the Kalalau Trail on Kauai

SFGate: …Deaths on the trail happen often enough that a sign posted at Hanakapiai Stream tallies its victims — close to 100 the last time I visited. This doesn’t include deaths at other streams and beaches, those from falling rocks or falls from great heights….

“No one wanted to help us. They basically said, ‘People go missing there all the time. We’re not going to go look for him,’” Michaelis says of the Kauai Police Department.

“I would just think if they’ve had that many people go missing, they could by now at least put in place a team that was skilled enough to be able to hike the trail and look, if we knew exactly where they were,” Michaelis continues. “If anyone had gone missing like here in Utah, I mean, we have a flight team that go fly out and go to wherever they were, even if they were from a different state.”….

Others who have gone missing include Bradford Turek, who was last seen at Kalalau Beach in 2004; Atticus Louis Pearson, whose campsite was found at Hanakapiai Valley in 1999; and Ilya Lomov, who was last seen in Kalalau Valley in 2013. There are also other missing persons on the island who cannot be placed anywhere specifically, but there’s a possibility they could have gone onto the Kalalau Trail too, such as the cases of Alex Gumm in 2018 and Piotr Drabik in 2006.

Michaelis says Marks’ mother has been comparing the different missing men. She believes that because many of the missing share similarities — namely, young men from out of state who are traveling solo — it’s possible there’s a serial killer out there….

The trail does have a history with erratic behavior, mysterious deaths and baffling discoveries. In 1979, a hiker found two bodies lying next to each other, with no identification and no cause of death. They’re still listed in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. In 1971, a rappelling biologist found two separate remains off a cliff in Kalalau Valley of people who died years apart. More recently, in 2012, a homeless man was arrested after reportedly pushing a tourist off a cliff on the Kalalau Trail….

read … The mysterious disappearances on Hawaii’s Napali Coast and the Kalalau Trail on Kauai

Hawaii Legislature Should Not Mess With Our Public Records Law

CB: … The landmark decision began with a public records request from Civil Beat reporter Nick Grube in 2015, who was trying to obtain budget documents from then-Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell….

The city declined the request, arguing it would “frustrate a legitimate government function” if city officials had to reveal how and why they arrived at the final budget submitted to the City Council by the mayor. Officials cited the “deliberative process privilege,” an exemption that public records experts in Hawaii say has often been misused.

Indeed, in siding with Civil Beat in its 3-2 decision the high court concluded that the privilege does not actually exist in state law. The city and other government agencies had been wrongly keeping government secrets secret for decades, ones that should have been disclosed under the Uniform Information Practices Act — Hawaii’s version of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

In the majority ruling, then Associate Justice Richard Pollack laid the blame for the lame interpretation of the exemption squarely on the Office of Information Practices. That’s the state agency that administers UIPA — which requires open access to government records — and the Sunshine Law, which requires open public meetings.

In a stinging rebuke to OIP, Pollack said its logic over the decades was “palpably erroneous.”

The ruling was rightly heralded as a “major shift” in the way public agencies think about public records, Civil Beat reported at the time.

“For the last 30 years OIP has been enabling government agencies to withhold records that they shouldn’t have been able to withhold,” said Brian Black, Civil Beat’s attorney. “Agencies should now be thinking hard about the importance of providing a level of transparency that’s consistent with the UIPA’s purpose that government records be as open as possible.”

And yet, seven years after Civil Beat went to court in the public interest, OIP is still seeking to keep the public in the dark. It is requesting public comment — even anonymously — on draft legislation that it argues will improve government decision-making.

Specifically, the bill, which would likely be heard in the next legislative session that begins in January, would create a new UIPA exception allowing agencies to keep the decision-making process secret until after everything is all over and the decision has been made. The information the public would be shut out from reviewing includes notes and rough drafts.

As well, the identity of those involved would be withheld “if that person lacks discretionary authority, did not make the decision, and is not under investigation for or engaged in wrongdoing or criminal conduct,” according to OIP’s position on the proposed law that was posted Wednesday….

read … Hawaii Legislature Should Not Mess With Our Public Records Law

Minimum Wage: “It’s the next steps that are the issue.”

HTH: … Victor Lim, legislative liaison for the Hawaii Restaurant Association, on Friday said most restaurants are “well-prepared” for the hike to $12 an hour, and many already made that increase after the law passed.

“As far as restaurants are concerned, $12 isn’t a big deal,” Lim said. “It’s the next steps that are the issue.”

Lim said the current economic downturn has made businesses’ profit margins even slimmer than normal, with costs of materials and utilities spiraling ever upward.

He said restaurants should still be able to cope with the hike on Saturday and even the planned hike to $14 an hour in 2024, but unless the downturn reverses itself, the increases to $16 and $18 in 2026 and 2028, respectively, could be too much.

“If the economy gets better, maybe people can deal with $18 an hour, too,” Lim said. “But if it doesn’t get better, a lot of small businesses, especially in East Hawaii, are going to be challenged.” ….

read … State minimum wage raised to $12 an hour

Electrical Fire at Kapolei Rail Station

SA: … A cable that monitored “stray current” from the third rail during testing caught fire on the guideway between the East Kapolei and West Oahu rail stations, HART executive director Lori Kahikina said in a press release.

The contractor, Hitachi Rail Honolulu, extinguished the fire before Honolulu Fire Department personnel arrived, Kahikina said in the statement.

Nine HFD units responded, the department said.

HART is investigating what might have caused the fire, and Hitachi Rail Honolulu will make any changes that the investigation finds necessary, Kahikina said in the statement.….

read … Firefighters respond to early-morning fire involving rail transit system in Kapolei

Councilman’s resolution calls for relocation of Hilo jail

HTH: … Chung said that he would prefer to see the entire facility relocated, but added that opening a secondary jail site to handle the excess inmates would be acceptable.

“I know it’s going to be almost cost-prohibitive,” Chung said, estimating that a new jail would cost about $100 million at the very least. “But with where it’s going now, there’s going to be a breaking point.”

The facility is also increasingly ill-suited for the area, Chung said. With the overcrowded jail located near Hilo Intermediate and Hilo High schools, in the middle of a residential area, the facility has become “unnerving” to residents, he said.

But Chung also acknowledged that, with a $20 million expansion currently underway at HCCC, state lawmakers will probably be unwilling to countenance building a new jail anytime soon. But, the resolution notes, even when the expansion is completed next year, it will add only 48 new beds, which is not enough to bring the jail back down to its maximum capacity.

Chung said the commission’s report validated what has been known about the facility for years: extreme overcrowding is a constant problem, while basic minimum standards of living set by the federal government are going unmet….

Overcrowding was a major concern in the report. The facility is intended to hold up to 152 inmates, but held 259 during the August tour. Nearly every cell held more inmates than they were intended for, and people were being held in temporary holding cells for weeks or even a month….

read … Councilman’s resolution calls for relocation of Hilo jail

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