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Tuesday, April 4, 2023
April 4, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:20 PM :: 3818 Views

Priced Out: Millennials Buying Cheapest Homes in Hawaii

Rate Hikes Coming: Hawaiian Electric seeks public comment on draft ‘Integrated Grid Plan: A pathway to a clean energy future’

Bribery News: Ty Cullen wants reduced sentence because he is son of Chinatown Murderer

SA: … Cullen’s attorney also noted the ex-lawmaker’s “traumatic childhood” as the son of man sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1996 after he was convicted of attempted murder in the first degree in connection with a shooting at the Kukui Plaza parking garage.

Cullen, one of six children, was 13 at the time his father was arrested after the shooting, which left a woman dead and a man seriously injured, according to Bervar’s memo.

By the time his father was sent to prison, Cullen was 15. After years of regular visits, Cullen’s father died of leukemia in prison when Cullen was 18.….

Kauai Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami wrote that he met Cullen in April 2011 when Kawakami was appointed to the state House to replace former Rep. Mina Morita. Kawakami lauded Cullen for always being there for him and his family, and remembered how Cullen checked on him every day following the deaths of Kawakami’s mother, father and older brother.

“To say that my relationship with Mr. Cullen is a personal friendship would be an understatement. He is like family to me,” wrote Kawakami in an April 9, 2022, letter to Mollway….

read … Ex-Hawaii lawmaker in bribery case seeks 15-month sentence

Hawaii County Mayor Reminds us of DOBOR ‘Retaliation, Shenanigans’

HNN: …  The DLNR initially refused to tell Hawaii News Now any information about Underwood’s employment status, but after HNN filed an information request, the DLNR then said he’s still working for department.

He’s not on leave and has no history of misconduct or investigation, the agency said.

The details concern Hawaii Island Mayor Mitch Roth.

”The fact that someone else is accusing Mr. Underwood of retaliation does not surprise me,” he said.

“I still have people on our island complaining about shenanigans being pulled off DOBAR (Division of Boating and Recreation).”

Roth was county prosecutor in 2017 and claimed that he was the target of a retaliation attempt by Underwood after he spoke out about allegations of rampant corruption at the state’s Boating Division.

Underwood had claimed he was the victim of a campaign designed to spread rumors without evidence so he filed an ethics complaint against Roth.

That ethics complaint was dismissed and the DLNR said no wrongdoing was found by the attorney general.

”I’ve seen an investigation that came back to me showing that they found retaliation only for them to change their decision only at the request of Ms. Case a while back, to me that looks like a cover up,” said Roth, referring to former DLNR chair Suzanne Case.

She spoke to HNN about the investigation’s findings in 2019, saying, “The results of the report were in my mind nothing was substantiated about it being retaliation.”

”I asked them to look further, specifically regard to the question if retaliation is a proper complaint, and also whether there is evidence of intentional action to be considered retaliatory. They looked at it further. They agreed with me and they issued the final report,” Case added.

On Monday, Roth also confirmed a federal investigation, but he doesn’t know the status.

”I did ask the feds to take a look into some matters and I did get confirmation that they were looking into some things,” he said.

At Friday’s confirmation hearing, newly-confirmed DLNR Chair Dawn Chang and lawmakers addressed news of the settlement and years of complaints about poor management and facilities at the boating division.

”A lot of these divisions have been running rampant and running rogue,” said state Sen. Angus McKelvey.

”I honestly think it’s time for regime change big changes in that division,” he added….

Feb, 2017: ​Corruption: DOBOR Boss Fails in Effort to retaliate Against Hawaii County Prosecutor

Background: Bra and Panty Birthday Parties: Lawsuit Details Work Life at Hawaii DOBOR

read … Hawaii County mayor raises new questions about embattled state boating chief

HART Expects Only 10,000 Daily Rail Riders

SA: … “Also, customers that use cash for a single ride, using a HOLO card, will ‘cap-out’ once a total of $80 is reached in a single calendar month,” Morton said. “We call this the ‘best fare option.’ For example, if someone rode the bus/rail system twice a day for 13 days they would spend $78. The next trip would cost $2 (to get to $80) and the balance of any trips in a calendar month would be free.”

As far as rail ridership, DTS expects about 10,000 riders per day on the rail corridor after the first year of operation. Comparing initial rail ridership numbers to TheBus, Morton noted pre-COVID-19 bus ridership was about 200,000 riders per day.

“Currently, post Covid ridership is about 130,000 riders per year and is up about 20% from the prior period last year,” Morton said.

Initial rail hours will be limited as well.

According to Morton, the rail hours in the beginning years of service will be 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

However, he said once the rail line begins full operation by 2031, the hours will be modified to 4 a.m. to midnight.

The Council’s Committee on Transportation is expected to review the DTS rail safety plan at 2:30 p.m. today in City Council chambers….

$13B / 10,000 = $1.3M per daily rider

read … City readies for opening of Kapolei to stadium rail segment

Honolulu Rail Cost On The Rise As Electric Hookups To Customers Along The Line Are Factored In

CB: … More than $700 million in contracts were awarded to relocate utilities in the urban area, but that did not include transformers or electrical lines to homes and businesses….

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has already spent $84 million on utility relocation work along Dillingham Boulevard, and also awarded contracts worth another $714 million to move utilities along Dillingham and through downtown.

But those contracts are for “backbone” infrastructure, and do not include the transformers and electrical lines needed to actually hook up the businesses and homes along the rail route to the new electrical infrastructure being installed.

That additional work including transformers for the Dillingham area alone is expected to cost $50 million to $75 million, depending on the cost of materials, according to Project Director Nathaniel Meddings….

read … Honolulu Rail Cost On The Rise As Electric Hookups To Customers Along The Line Are Factored In

A national report and a local index show that affordability has gotten much worse in the past two years.

HB: … Buying a home on Maui is so out of reach for most residents that it would take an annual income of more than $200,000 to buy a house or condominium there and nearly 100% of the island’s average wages to keep it.

Housing has reached a greater crisis on Maui, where 50.3% of families are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income each month for housing, according to House Maui, an initiative aimed at creating a sustainable housing market for local families that was launched by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.

Maui County – which includes Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i – was the least affordable county for homeownership in Hawai‘i in the first quarter of this year, according to a new report by ATTOM Data Solutions….

read … A national report and a local index show that affordability has gotten much worse in the past two years.

Who Can Afford 'Affordable Housing' In Hawaii? Certainly Not Low-Income Families

CB: … Donʻt be misled into thinking a big dent is being made in Hawaii’s housing crisis when developers boast about the affordable condos for sale or rent in their new buildings.

What the developers usually mean is they have held lotteries for a limited number of “affordable” condos for sale  — usually 20% of their stock they are required to offer at below market price to get zoning permits in certain areas. 

These units are so-called workforce housing — affordable to qualified working people, often couples with two incomes or young professionals beginning their work lives. 

Workforce housing is definitely needed, but it does not come close to solving the stateʻs pressing demand for what James Koshiba calls “deeply affordable housing,” which he characterizes as rentals for no more than $500….

read … Who Can Afford 'Affordable Housing' In Hawaii? Certainly Not Low-Income Families

Military COLA cuts delayed

GPDN: … Military service members stationed on Guam, Hawaii and other locations got to receive their full overseas cost of living allowance in their April 1 paycheck, after a delay in the implementation of deep OCOLA cuts.

A reduction is still anticipated to happen.

“I encourage you to plan for a potential change in the near future but you will not see any change (in) your paycheck this pay period,” Navy Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, commander of Joint Region Marianas, said in a March 30 video message.

He said “no final decisions” have been made to implement any change in OCOLA for members serving in Hawaii, Guam or any other overseas locations.

A prior video message from Nicholson anticipated that changes in the overseas COLA would take place April 1st….

read … Military COLA cuts delayed

A few straightforward rule changes would vastly improve transparency and thus accountability

CB: … A few straightforward rule changes would vastly improve transparency and thus accountability:

  • Conduct the referral process as done now in the Senate. Majority staff attorneys make a recommendation, a leadership committee accepts or modifies that recommendation. Pau.
  • Eliminate the speakers power to override the “Review Committee.” Note: No similar power exists in the Senate.
  • Prohibit Finance Committee referrals unless a bills passage would require amending the state budget or an appropriation.
  • If a bill is heard and voted upon by its initial subject matter committee, all subsequent committees must hear and vote on it. Note: This does not mean subsequent committees must pass it.
  • Require a chair to state in writing reasons a bill should not be heard (and thus killed) and require committee members to indicate in writing support or opposition to the chair’s recommendation. This could be done in the form of a simple report.
  • Require a publicly recorded committee vote on a motion to defer.

read … Hawaii’s House Speaker Has Way, Way Too Much Power

City to Hike ‘Workers’ to ‘Work’ from Home 

HNN: … In March 2022, the city had 1,831 vacant positions.

At the end of last month, the city had added 17 workers.

While that doesn’t seem like much, it does break a five-year trend of losing workers. Full staffing would be at just over 7,000 city employees. Currently, more than 3,700 are either flexing their schedules or teleworking….

The city is launching a pilot program in an effort to entice more workers and fill thousands of vacancies Among the options being promoted: Telework and flexible schedules for many employees.

Leaders of seven Honolulu offices and departments, including the Board of Water Supply and Department of Customer Services, will participate. “It’s a pilot program to expand and better define the city’s offerings for alternate work schedules,” said Amy Asselbaye, executive director of the Office of Economic Revitalization.

Asselbaye said the program officially kicks off Tuesday, but any schedule changes wouldn’t come until the fiscal year starts in July. She said the city plans to follow it closely to see if alternative work options actually increased hiring….

read … In ‘hard to compete’ labor market, city to test flexible work schedules and telework options

Hawaii Convention Center Exploits Rain to Grift for Money, Again

SA: … Heavy rain that caused pockets of flash flooding in the southern and eastern areas of Oahu on Sunday soaked through the Hawai‘i Convention Center roof, affecting the Kawaii Kon event and removing another five meeting rooms from service.

(CLUE: Don’t fix the roof.  Use it to get appropriations.)

(Exultant,) Hawai‘i Convention Center General Manager Teri Orton said the final ceremony for Kawaii Kon was taking place when rain penetrated the third-floor ceiling, forcing (smiling) staff to enter the event to put out several plastic bins to catch the rain — an embarrassing (ideal) end to an otherwise successful event. Orton said Kawaii Kon drew some 20,000 attendees during the three-day event, which celebrated Japanese anime, gaming and illustration….

(CLUE: First rule of bureaucracy: ‘Maintain the problem.’)  

SA Off The News: Legislators must own leaky roof

read … Rain causes leaks, disruptions at Hawai‘i Convention Center

SB1027: Combat Sports Commission

SA: … Hawaii legislators hope to attract the multibillion-dollar mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship to the state by creating a new Combat Sports Commission this legislative session with the belief that it will provide legitimacy to the industry through stringent oversight of all future mixed martial arts events. 

Senate Bill 1027 would create the new commission under the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The idea is that the commission would have stricter regulations than the state’s current Mixed Martial Arts Program.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who introduced the bill, said the formation of the commission will encourage fighting promotions like the UFC to come to Hawaii….

HTH: Bill aims to attract UFC to Hawaii

read … UFC In Hawaii? Lawmakers Hope To Attract More MMA Events

Booze Battle Heats Up As Judge Slaps Liquor Commission Critic With Court Order

CB: … Controversies surrounding the beleaguered Honolulu Liquor Commission have taken an unusual turn, with a commission investigations supervisor obtaining a temporary restraining order against a critic who the supervisor says has bombarded the agency with public records requests. The critic’s lawyer says her client is simply seeking public information that makes the commission look bad.

A trial on whether to make the TRO against Robert Sobieralski permanent is scheduled for later this month.

The case is occurring on the sidelines of a high-profile federal civil rights suit pitting an LGBTQ+ newsletter and Scarlet Honolulu, a gay bar owned by Sobieralski’s roommate, against the commission and several of its investigators….

read … Booze Battle Heats Up As Judge Slaps Liquor Commission Critic With Court Order

Legislative Agenda:

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