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Thursday, October 20, 2022
October 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:42 PM :: 1644 Views

Increased Fire Risk Surrounds Paeahu Solar Project in Kihei, Maui

Sprint to the Finish: Ige Appoints New State Comptroller, Seeks PUC Nominee

Without Bribery, DPP Delay "The worst it's ever been" -- So Council Kills Audit

KITV: … The Honolulu City Council put off a resolution on Tuesday that looks to audit the troubled Department of Planning and Permitting.

The Committee on Executive Matter and Legal Affairs discussed the systemic operational deficiencies within the department. For months, it's been under fire from customers who have complained about outrageous delays to obtain residential and commercial permits.

"This is the worst it's ever been. The permits are taking over a year," says Tommy Waters, Honolulu City Council Chair….

SA: ‘Good Idea to Kill Audit

read … "The worst it's ever been." | Honolulu City Council halts audit of Dept. of Planning and Permitting

DHHL Hides Feds Warning from Commissioners, Illegally Seeks to Apply Act 236 Land Lease Extension

SA: … In September, DHHL let Hawaiian Homes Commission members know that the agency intended to seek action from the commission in October on a request from Brookfield to extend its Prince Kuhio Plaza land lease to 2082 from 2042. If approved, the lease, which began in 1977, would span 105 years….

Some DHHL beneficiaries, Native Hawaiians who are eligible for homestead land leases from the agency, and their advocates are incensed that DHHL was entertaining a Brookfield lease extension after the federal agency in May disagreed with a Hawaii attorney general opinion contending that DHHL’s use of the state lease extension law, Act 236 in 2021, didn’t require DOI review and approval by Congress.

“This letter is not intended to serve as the Secretary’s formal review of Act 236 … . Rather, this letter serves as notice that Act 236 can have no effect on the (Hawaiian Homes Commission Act) or the Trust,” Joan Mooney, DOI’s principal deputy assistant secretary, said in the May 11 letter to William Aila Jr., DHHL’s director and Hawaiian Homes Commission chair….

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations said in a Tuesday announcement to members that DHHL leadership disregarded the federal government’s determination and decided not to provide Hawaiian Homes Commission members with the May letter as the agency prepared commissioners to consider a lease extension for Brookfield.

“I think it’s a pretty serious breach,” said Robin Danner, chair of the council. “It is blatant dishonesty.”

DHHL spokesperson Cedric Duarte said the agency didn’t share the May letter with commissioners because the letter said, in part, that it wasn’t intended to serve as the interior secretary’s formal review of Act 236….

After the law was enacted, the council sought an opinion from DOI with the help of U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele and contended that federal oversight is required for DHHL to use the new law.

In a Friday letter to Ige, Kahele said, “I am writing to convey my deep concern that DHHL intends to circumvent the DOI and not comply with the requirements laid out in the Admissions Act for consent by the United States for all substantive changes by applying the provisions in Act 236 with DHHL commercial lease extensions. To avoid legal action by the United States against the State of Hawaii, I am requesting your intervention to address this issue with DHHL.”…

During the Sept. 19 meeting, commissioner Mike Kaleikina asked whether there should be a discussion of Act 236.

Peter “Kahana” Albinio Jr., DHHL’s acting land management division administrator, replied that there had been no response from DOI and that DHHL was proceeding based on the Hawaii attorney general’s opinion, which was produced in December and conveyed to DOI in February….

Commissioner Randy Awo questioned whether that might be trouble given federal law possibly superseding state law.

“Can we just roll with what the AG is saying?” he asked.

At that point Lambert said it would be more appropriate to discuss the issue in executive session. “You’re starting to go into things that probably shouldn’t be discussed in open session,” she said….  

read … Hilo mall at heart of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands dispute

Panel declines action on SHOPO Sham complaints vs. ‘outsider’ Maui Chief

MN: … Commission Chairman Frank De Rego Jr. said in open session after an executive session behind closed doors that lasted more than an hour that the vote was 5-3 not to initiate the proceedings for Chief John Pelletier.

A list of how the members voted could not immediately be obtained from the commission or a county attorney Wednesday afternoon.

For the past several meetings, the commission has been reviewing complaints against Pelletier, which have not resulted in disciplinary proceedings. Eight county employees have filed complaints against Pelletier and members of his executive staff, alleging a hostile workplace, including harassment in the workplace and gender discrimination, according to information provided previously by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Two appeals of the commission’s past decisions to not initiate disciplinary proceedings were filed and were denied at the commission’s Sep. 21 meeting.

read … Panel declines action on complaint vs. chief

HGEA: ARPA Funding will be Ours

TGI: … After debate on Wednesday, the Kaua‘i County Council approved a plan which would spend the bulk of the latest round of American Rescue Plan Act funding on the renovation of the former Big Save space at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Pi‘ikoi Building in Lihu‘e into a child care and youth center.

Of a total of $10.8 million in federal funds, $7 million will go to the center — enough to cover a large chunk of the project, but likely not enough to complete it.

The remaining money will go toward a heavy wash rack for garbage trucks ($2 million), a Kilauea land purchase for housing ($1 million), hauling of cover soil for Kekaha Landfill ($600,000), the completion of plans and demolition related to the Kaua‘i Police Activities League Sports Complex ($100,000), and administrative costs ($125,000)….

Testimony on the plan from Hawai‘i Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira warned about pending arbitration that may determine HGEA workers are entitled to hazard pay for their ‘work’ during the pandemic.

“The decision of this pending arbitration could place an enormous financial commitment on the County of Kaua‘i,” wrote Perreira. “ARPA funds were designated in part to address hazard-pay claims.”

Dahilig said the county was also facing pending arbitration with the State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers and the United Public Workers unions regarding hazard pay….

read … Over opposition, Kaua‘i County Council approves American Rescue Plan Act funding 

Maui Charter Proposal Would Let Some County Employees ‘Work’ From Home, LOL!

CB:  … The measure would establish a county policy to promote climate change adaptation, including by implementing guidelines to allow some county employees to telework or have alternative work schedules.

But it’s unclear whether the shift to work-from-home policies is helping the planet or hurting it.

The county already has a union-approved telework policy in place and some departments have staff now working from home or on alternative schedules, according to County Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishita. It’s unclear what other measures such a policy might grow to encompass….

read … Maui Charter Proposal Would Let Some County Employees Work From Home

Will Blangiardi Appeal 30-day Ruling?

CB: … The long-time environmental group Hawaii’s Thousand Friends on Monday joined the organizations Save Oahu’s Neighborhoods, HI Good Neighbor, Keep It Kailua and Save North Shore Neighborhoods in filing a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging a new Honolulu ordinance meant to rein in rentals of properties in residential neighborhoods.….

On Thursday, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is expected to explain how the city plans to proceed after the court ruling. Options include settling the litigation and grandfathering in properties that previously had rented for at least 30 days, which the plaintiffs’ attorney has estimated to be around 1,000 properties. The city could also appeal Watson’s interim order blocking the 90-day minimum to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or let the lawsuit run its course and decide whether to appeal after a final ruling.

In the meantime, the activist organizations have asked Watson for permission to join the litigation as intervenors. In their request, the organizations say they are primarily homeowners in residential neighborhoods: a class of persons they say the new ordinance is meant to protect “and who will be most directly affected if the Ordinance is not allowed to take effect.”….

Background: Federal Court: Honolulu's 3-Month Minimum Rental Term Preempted By State Law

read … Neighborhood Groups Want City’s Ban On 30-Day Rentals To Move Forward

Ban On In-Session Campaign Donations Gets Thumbs Up From Hawaii Standards Commission

CB: … The Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct is recommending that lawmakers stop accepting campaign cash while doing their work during the legislative session.

A bill to do that along with nine other measures focused on reforming campaign finance laws will head to lawmakers for consideration during the 2023 session, set to start in January. The commission previously recommended banning any donations during the legislative session, but state lawmakers only banned fundraising events instead.

Curtailing fundraising events had little effect on campaign donations. Legislators still raised more than $500,000 during the 2022 session….

read … Ban On In-Session Campaign Donations Gets Thumbs Up From Hawaii Standards Commission

Court orders police to turn over records in accidental shooting death of Boy Scout

HNN: … Hawaii County police will have to turn over evidence and details of their investigation into the accidental shooting death of an 11-year-old Boy Scout.

A judge granted a petition from the estate of Manuel Carvalho for an independent investigation.

Police and autopsy reports, body camera videos, and witness statements are among the evidence that must be provided by Oct. 26.

Attorney Kris LaGuire said the family “has a right to know what happened to their boy.”…

As Hawaii News Now reported earlier this week, the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office conflicted out of the case because staff and family members were at the Scouts event….

read … Court orders police to turn over records in accidental shooting death of Boy Scout

Legislature Should Rescind Aloha Stadium Funding

SA: … A segment of the population believes that a new stadium is not financially viable because interest in football, concerts and other stadium events has been declining for years. Even some University of Hawaii football fans prefer an expanded Ching Stadium on the UH-Manoa campus to a new Aloha Stadium in Halawa.

Moreover, COVID has accelerated the declining interest in stadium events. The new stadium was conceived using pre-COVID assumptions, which may no longer be valid.

Furthermore, most Hawaii residents rarely, if ever, attended events at the old stadium before it closed. Similarly, the new stadium would benefit a relatively small portion of the population. Few neighbor islanders, for example, would attend events there.

Although only a relatively few would benefit, everyone would pay for the new stadium. In its 2022 session, the Legislature appropriated $400 million for it. That money is derived largely from the general excise tax. The general excise tax applies to nearly everything sold in Hawaii, and it is passed down to consumers, so everyone would ultimately be paying for the new stadium.

Another concern is that stadiums require continuous maintenance, which in turn requires continuous funding. The new stadium may not be able to generate enough income to pay for maintenance costs. The old Aloha Stadium is an example of what can happen when maintenance is not adequately funded….

To encourage this public discussion, the Legislature should entertain a bill in the 2023 session repealing the $400 million funding that was passed in 2022.….

read … Let public weigh in on whether new Aloha Stadium is needed

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