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Wednesday, May 10, 2023
May 10, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:22 PM :: 1843 Views

Hawaii Officials Sign Unified Statement on Red Hill

Green Opens First Homeless 'Kauhale'

Maui Antivaxxers Sue to Save Mosquitoes from Eradication

Alleged Hawaii Circuit Pimp Busted in Seattle

Axis Deer Venison: Opportunity for Hawaii Ranchers?

Criminal inquiry into Red Hill fuel spills Exposed

SA: … The Navy captain who was in charge of the Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor during the May 2021 Red Hill jet fuel spill is not a target of the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation into the environmental disaster that affected about 93,000 people, his attorney told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Capt. Trent C. Kalp, 51, was in charge during the May 2021 fuel leak and was succeeded by Capt. Albert L. Hornyak on Aug. 6, 2021, before the November 2021 spill. Hornyak was removed of his command in April 2022 “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to perform his duties following a series of leadership and oversight failures at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.”

Hornyak raised concerns about the facility’s safety in leaked emails obtained by the Star-Advertiser….

Kalp testified before the grand jury Dec. 8 and has not received a target letter from DOJ, according to his attorney, Victor J. Bakke.

“We received a letter requesting his appearance, and we voluntarily appeared,” said Bakke in an interview with the Star- Advertiser. “At this time, to our knowledge, we are not a target of the investigation.”

Kalp is currently director of fleet supply.

The report on the spill prepared by the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet noted that Kalp removed military oversight of day-to-day operations at Red Hill just a few months prior to the May 2021 leak, causing a “significantly” increased risk at the facility.

It also found that he failed to “identify, mitigate, or directly address these risks,” oversaw an “alarming level of procedural non- compliance,” on May 6, 2021, and demonstrated an overall lack of critical thinking and leadership.

DOJ is in the midst of a federal grand jury investigation into the 2021 Red Hill fuel spill to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Civilian and U.S. Department of Defense officials in charge of Red Hill operations during the fuel leaks have been testifying before the panel.

Those officials include civilian contractors working at Red Hill at the time of the spills and Navy commanders like Kalp.

Sherri R. Eng, 56, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command environmental business line leader and Navy Region Hawaii environmental program manager, was also interviewed by the grand jury. Eng did not immediately reply to Star-Advertiser requests for comment.….

The probe is being led by Krishna S. Dighe, senior counsel with DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, which is tasked with enforcing “the Nation’s civil and criminal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and hazardous waste laws.”…

read … Criminal inquiry into Red Hill fuel spills ongoing

Green’s Slush Fund Enables $70M HTA Contracts

HNN: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority is going ahead with nearly $70 million in visitor marketing and management contracts, despite lawmakers giving them no money for the next two years….

With reassurance of money coming from the governor and legislative leaders, the board did decide to go ahead with three ongoing bids after a year and half delay. The largest is $38 million for marketing to the mainland until December 2025. Another is called “destination stewardship” and dedicates $28 million through May 2026.

The third contract is $2.4 million for marketing to Canada.

The board scheduled all three RFPs to be awarded to winning proposals on May 22….

To avoid more delays, with selection process already underway, lawmakers and the governor worked out a deal to tap into a new $200 million discretionary fund. Exactly how much will be needed for HTA is unclear because the agency has some money in the bank that should cover initial payments for the contracts, Kam said.

“That’s still fluid but from our understanding, the funding is available for us to proceed,” he said.

Still, a concern for the Tourism Authority is the fact that lawmakers came very close to repealing the agency completely. So, it now has about seven months, until the next session, to justify its continued existence….

SA: Hawaii Tourism Authority prepares to award contracts

REALITY:
CNHA-HTA BACKGROUND:

read … Visitor marketing contracts move forward despite tourism authority’s budget crisis

Budget Includes $200M for Unwanted ‘First Responders Campus’

CB: … “We gave only $10 million to Housing First, which is a proven, demonstrated program to help people transition out of homelessness while sneaking in almost 20 times that amount for a first responders campus in my district that nobody wants,” said Perruso, who represents Wahiawa with Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the Senate Ways and Means Committee chair who did the “sneaking.”…

… regarding the corruptness that is bred in the dark, behind closed doors: “Today, two state legislators, one director of a department, director of the county and another county worker are doing time.”….

The lawmakers’ floor speeches criticizing the Legislature and especially the budget can be watched here beginning around the 1:12:30 mark and ending some 45 minutes later….

read …  The Hawaii Legislature Is Broken

After Forced Closure of Last Coal Plant, Electricity Rate Shock Hits City Hall

CB: … Electricity prices for city buildings have risen more than 28% over the past year, forcing many agencies to look for ways to make unexpected cuts in their budgets.

From March 2022 to February 2023, the city spent $87.19 million on electricity, up from $67.78 million for the same months one year earlier – a $19.4 million increase according to city data.

Global oil prices and the shutdown of the island’s last coal-fired plant have been identified as major drivers….

Island households have been affected by the same price trends. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, residential utility prices in Honolulu rose 15.7% from March 2022 to March 2023….

The expense increase occurred even though the city has taken a number of steps to cut its utility usage, according to interviews with city officials. Usage overall has fallen 7% in the past two years, dropping from 231.1 million kilowatts to 214.70, even as city activity ramped up when pandemic restrictions eased.

Lighting systems are being retrofitted for lower energy use, automated controls are set to prevent energy waste, air conditioning systems are being reengineered, film is being placed on windows to reduce the heat of the sun, surfaces are being painted to reflect heat and solar power is being deployed in as many places as possible, city officials said.

They are seeing progress, they added. Since 2018, energy usage has substantially fallen in five of the city’s largest departments including the Bureau of Water Supply, Environmental Services, Facilities Management, Transportation Services and Parks and Recreation….

read … Electricity Rate Shock Hits City Hall Too

ACLU outraged over $10M allocated for new OCCC--wants mass release of Criminals

HNN: … Overcrowding and dilapidated conditions are some of the main reasons why public safety officials are advocating for a new Oahu Community Correctional Center.

“At OCCC, parts of it are 100 years old or more. It is clearly antiquated, out of date, it costs too much money to maintain, and it’s not conducive to today’s population,” said Department of Public Safety Director Tommy Johnson.

OCCC was originally designed for 628 inmates.

Currently, there are 1,078 inmates there.

“So we’re almost double what the design capacity is,” Johnson said. “We’re about 200 over the operational capacity. So that means we will have people, three people to some cells, even four maybe to some cells.”

The state’s budget currently calls for $10 million to help plan a new facility — something DPS officials say is desperately needed.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union says it’s a waste of taxpayer money.

“The system is not working, we just have a revolving door, and we need to get to the root pathways to crime,” said ACLU of Hawaii Policy Director Carrie Ann Shirota. “And that’s not just by warehousing people locking them up, and throwing away the key.”…

May 3, 2023: ACLU of Hawai‘i Statement Relating to the State Budget (HB300 HD1 SD1 CD1)

read … Prison reform advocates outraged over $10M allocated for new OCCC

Soft-on-Crime Rhetoric Makes Homeless Drug Addicts Resist Police More

SA: … Why the big increase in Honolulu? In an interview, an HPD official told us there are two causes: HPD is reporting better than it used to, and HPD is using force more frequently than it used to. On this view, improvements in police reporting about the use of force followed the department’s change to a more automated case report system in November 2016, and the more frequent use of force is being driven by an increase in people’s resistance to police authority.

These seem like plausible explanations, but the increase in police use of force started long before the 2016 change in HPD’s reporting practices (use of force incidents doubled from 2010 to 2016). Similarly, we have not found evidence that people in Honolulu resist police more than they used to.

Another main finding is that a large proportion of police force is used against people who are socially marginalized. Between 2010 and 2021, more than 40% of the people subject to force were unemployed at the time of their encounter with police. During this same period, the city’s unemployment rate fluctuated between 3% and 4%.

People under the influence of drugs or alcohol also figure prominently in HPD’s use of force statistics. From 2010 to 2021, 60% of the people subject to use of force were reported by police to be under the influence, and in one year the figure reached 88%.

We could not find data for recent years about how often police use force against homeless people, but we do have evidence from 2010 and 2011. In those years, homeless people were 30 to 40 times more likely to be subject to police use of force than the average person living in Honolulu.

We also found large racial and ethnic disparities in HPD’s use of force data for 2021, for Micronesians, Samoans and Blacks. Most strikingly, Micronesians were about 3.5 times more likely to experience police force than whites, and 25 times more likely than people of Chinese or Japanese ethnicity. Disparity does not necessarily mean discrimination, but the disparities found in HPD’s data raise important questions about the impact of policing on people in these marginalized groups….

read … Soft on Crime Rhetoric Causes Crime

HPD and Hawaii Legislators Have Long Been Loath To Tackle The Issue Of Cockfighting

CB: … The department hasn’t made any cockfighting arrests since before 2020, according to Maj. Mike Lambert, the commander of the Narcotics/Vice division….

Hawaii is just one of eight states that considers cockfighting a misdemeanor act of animal cruelty instead of a felony. Critics say that gives operators and participants license to continue with business as usual. Punishments for misdemeanors in the islands are limited to up to a year in prison and fines up to $2,000. 

But there appears to be little political will at the Legislature to make changes, according to a survey of lawmakers by Civil Beat. Some lawmakers said they are hesitant to bump the crime up to a felony because the police aren’t enforcing it anyway. Other legislators opposed creating more opportunities for incarceration or were agnostic on the issue of cockfighting. At least one lawmaker outright supports cockfighting and said the state should legalize it….

read … Hawaii Legislators Have Long Been Loath To Tackle The Issue Of Cockfighting

Joke: $1.25M will pay the Sheriff and DPS to ask for more money to Stop Fireworks, LOL!

HNN: …  Curbing Hawaii’s illegal fireworks problem is an issue that lawmakers are hoping to tackle by creating a task force to determine what is needed to stop the explosions.

Over $1 million would be allocated if Gov. Josh Green signs it into law and there is no guarantee anything will change.

…The task force would be streamlined into the State’s newly-formed Department of Law Enforcement.

“The task force will determine what other resources that they’re going to need long-term,” Sen. Dela Cruz said. “They may ask for drones (and robot dogs), they’re probably going to ask for some computer equipment, they’re going to probably be asking for communication equipment.” …

(TRANSLATION: We pay them $1.25M for them to think up ways to ask us for more money.)

(BETTER IDEA: Use the profits from smuggling fireworks shipments thru the OCCC mailroom to pay for the task force.)

REALITY:  Feds: Jail Guards Smuggling Illegal Fireworks thru OCCC Mailroom

read … Hawaii’s illegal fireworks task force: ‘Enough talking!’

State OKs number of low-income tax breaks

HTH: … Three key tax credits for “ALICE families” — a term referring to “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed families” — will double and even quadruple under a series of tax credit increases proposed under Gov. Josh Green’s Green Affordability Plan, a sweeping series of credits and other financial assistance aimed at improving the state’s cost of living crisis.

House Bill 1049, the primary legislative vehicle for the Green Affordability Plan, stalled out at the last minute, never making it to its final conference committees. Nonetheless, most of the bill’s language was transferred to House Bill 954, which has successfully passed its final committees and awaits Green’s signature.

First, under HB 954, the state earned income tax credit will be expanded to be 40% of the federal earned income tax credit, up from the current 20%.

Second, a food/excise tax credit will be doubled. Where before, that credit ranged from $35 to $110, depending on the claimant’s tax bracket, the bill sets the credit at $70 to $220, while also raising the ceilings on those tax brackets — currently the highest $110 credit can be claimed only by those with an adjusted gross income below $5,000, but the bill would grant the highest $220 credit to those making up to $15,000.

Finally, the state’s child and dependent care tax credit, which allows taxpayers who care for children or dependents to claim a percentage of employment- or care-related expenses as a tax credit, will be quadrupled. The current maximum size of the credit caps at $2,400 for those with one dependent or $4,800 for those with more. HB 954 sets those caps at $10,000 and $20,000, respectively.

“Depending on their situation, people could see another $2,000, $3,000 per year,” said Hilo Rep. Chris Todd. “If they can claim that dependent care credit, it could be even higher.”…

read … State OKs number of low-income tax breaks

200 bums per month discharged from Queens--10 will get housing

HNN: … The plan is to have people living there early next month.

On, Tuesday morning, a pair of tiny homes were delivered to the Capitol District on the back of flatbed truck and placed in a state Department of Health parking lot just steps away from Washington Place.

“We have a total of 10 units for occupancy,” said HomeAid Hawaii Executive Director Kimo Carvalho.

“The inside is 110 square feet. There will be a security and a nursing unit down there at the far end. There will be a fence installed.” …

“This is going to be free of charge,” said James Koshiba, the governor’s homeless coordinator. “For people who are being discharged from urban Honolulu hospitals. And are still in need of a place to rest and fully recover.”

He said more than 200 people are discharged from hospitals into homelessness on Oahu every month.

“This will allow us to improve care,” said the Queen’s Health System CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green.

In part, she added, because it will reduce the need to return to the emergency room.

Green said, “If they can be discharged here, they’re going to be in a safe environment with a nurse that’s going to be seeing them everyday. Making sure they have the right sustenance, the right time to heal, and they heal faster.”

Unlike other kauhale villages, this one is temporary.

It’ll operate until more permanent medical respite beds are created.

“Our estimate right now is that it will take about six months,” said Koshiba. “Once this kauhale is no longer needed because that space is open. These units will be relocated. Most likely to a permanent kauhale site.” ….

SA: Hawaii’s first medical respite receives first units

LINK: ACLU Whines About Kauhale Program

read … Here’s why tiny homes are being installed just steps from the governor’s mansion

Legislative Agenda:

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