What went well — and wrong — at the 2023 Hawaii Legislature
The Number of Weather Disasters that Hit Hawaii in the Last Decade
DoT Mess: Statewide Road Projects on Hold Until 2024 due to Massive Airport Problems
BH: … What do Hawaii road repairs and an airport runway out service since 2022 have to do with one another? …
The Hawaii Department of Transportation says … it is slamming the breaks on all other projects for now since it cannot seem to get a critical runway repaired at the state’s largest airport:
“Runway 8L had to be reconstructed to make sure we can land larger jets on it safely for the state. We put all of the asphalt binder in the state behind this one project which means that all of the other state projects, county projects and even private projects are on hold until this project is done. — Ed Sniffen, Director, Hawaii Department of Transportation.”
The only thing of this magnitude previously was the 1977 Reef Runway addition. This project adds 50 feet to the runway width, bringing it to 200 feet. It came directly after adding the odd new Mauka Concourse, which cost more than one-quarter billion dollars.
This provides unrestricted operations for Boeing 747-800 and Airbus A380 aircraft. Those represent an insignificant percentage of the flights at HNL, yet the disruption impacts all….
As a result of the above project, which is indeed huge, and is facing unexpected delays, the state has put a hold on projects, including Kauai highway repairs and resurfacing island-wide and the dismal road to Waimea Canyon, where shockingly dangerous potholes abound.
Honolulu also faces a halt on projects, including the H-1 freeway rehabilitation and the Likelike Highway repairs. Big Island has a hold on a variety of highway and road projects….
The problems associated with the runway have been ongoing for eight months, and there is no indication of when the work will be done.
DOT director Sniffen said that issues, not of their making had hamstrung them. He said that due to Kona (southerly) winds, for example, if work had continued, it would have prevented planes from landing in Honolulu. We aren’t sure if that is the case, but we look forward to our HNL pilot friends validating that information as correct….
The delays have been the primary cause for Hawaiian Airlines losing its decade-long number-one rating for U.S. on-time performance….
KITV: The runway was closed in October for an expansion project, and is scheduled to reopen on May 27.
read … Hawaii Flights Vexed Until 2024 By Massive Airport Problems
HPD Investigation Of Makaha Cops Is Wrapping Up, Commission Told
CB: … More than a year and a half after four police officers allegedly ran a car full of people off the road, the Honolulu Police Department is just about done with its investigation of the incident. But they still have one more interview to do, Deputy Chief Rade Vanic told the Honolulu Police Commission on Wednesday.
“It shouldn’t take that long,” he said. “We should be done fairly soon.”…
On May 3 the commission postponed deciding whether to grant taxpayer-funded legal representation for Bartolome and Smith until “the next meeting,” Wednesday.
The commission did not make a decision on Wednesday.
Instead, commission chair Doug Chin read a statement that the commission had “rearranged its agenda with respect to its responsibilities relating to requests for legal counsel for police officers.”
Officers now must establish that they are entitled to representation and commissioners “should examine the entire record to determine whether an officer is being prosecuted for acts done in the performance of the officers’ duty as a police officer,” Chin said.
That means commissioners may consider police reports and witness statements rather than simply criminal or civil complaints, he said. Commissioners can also take sworn testimony from other people besides the officer and examine internal investigations and other documents, he said.
“There will not be a decision before May 29,” Chin wrote in an email….
read … HPD Investigation Of Makaha Cops Is Wrapping Up, Commission Told
Judge denies Katherine Kealoha’s efforts to be released from custody
KHON: … Last year, she began a series of court filings challenging her convictions, saying all her court-appointed and direct-hire lawyers were ineffective before, during and after trial including failing to file appeals.
According to court documents, the judge said “the defendant certainly had the tools to inquire as to the status of her appeal, but she simply failed to do so.”
The judge also denied her a “certificate of appealability” of the order…
CB: Katherine Kealoha Fails In Effort To Get Out Of Prison
read … Judge denies Katherine Kealoha’s efforts to be released from custody
Few Respond to Red Hill Survey
SA: … What to do with the Navy’s aging, 20-tank Red Hill fuel- storage facility after its 104 million gallons are drained next year? The Navy wants to hear from you — but has heard very little. Earlier this week, fewer than 500 people had responded to an online survey asking for input on non-fuel uses for the facility following its closure; that ticked up to about 690 Thursday.
That’s pretty paltry, especially since Nakupuna Cos. and its subcontractors got a half-million-dollar contract to solicit the public’s ideas. The work includes this survey, which opened in late March and closes at the end of this month; see www.redhillrepurposing.com.
read … Seeking comments on Red Hill’s future
The Other Gender Gap Starts in Kindergarten
HB: … our boys and men are doing much worse than girls and women in education and health.
The indicators of this education reality are widespread. In Hawai‘i, 37% of women ages 25 to 34 have a bachelor’s degree, at least, while only 27% of men do, according to a 2022 report by the Brookings Institution. (Read the report at tinyurl.com/boystats.)
That means one big gender gap between women and men has been reversed in the past half century: Women are now as far ahead in higher education as men were when Title IX became law 51 years ago.
The female-male education gap begins early. The state DOE does not make it easy to compare boys and girls test scores in our public schools. But Stanford University research shows that in Hawai‘i public schools, on average, girls are testing at their expected grade level while boys are testing at 0.72 of a grade below their expected grade level. That’s almost a full grade below where they are supposed to be.
That gap in test scores is similar nationwide. And the K-12 education gaps can be measured in GPA, graduation rates, school readiness and other ways….
read … The Other Gender Gap Starts in Kindergarten
‘Thinly Veiled Scam’--Highgate publishes first Hotel ESG Report--touts Hawaii Carbon Credit Scheme
HB: … Marianne Balfe, VP, sustainability, Highgate, added, “With this report, we endeavored to exhibit our most successful initiatives and to provide visibility into our full carbon footprint, including initial emissions calculations for our entire supply chain. We will use these data to establish achievable goals and measure our progress.”
As an example of the ambitious environmental standards and objectives that Highgate is pursuing, the report highlights how the Alohilani Resort became the first hotel in Hawaii to commit to PAS 2060 carbon neutrality certification. As part of this initiative, the hotel partnered with the Hawaii Legacy Reforestation Initiative to reforest more than 1,200 acres of trees, which is the first carbon removal project in the U.S. to achieve Gold Standard certification.
As a member of the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), Highgate became the first hospitality company to sign CEBA’s Commercial Real Estate Principles, which supports the decarbonization of commercial buildings through energy optimization and renewable energy procurement. In 2021, the company made a large-scale investment in Green-e-certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) that allowed more than 200 hotels in its portfolio to be powered by 100% renewable energy. It is also evaluating onsite renewable energy feasibility and is conducting a comprehensive analysis of onsite solar and battery storage opportunities across its entire portfolio….
REALITY: SB2070: $50M for ‘thinly veiled scam’?
read … Highgate publishes first ESG Report
NPS, FAA propose crackdown on Hawaii air tours
EE: … the agencies said they also want to limit overflights at two Hawaiian parks — Hawaiʻi Volcanoes and Haleakalā — where visitors have long complained about the noise.
NPS said it is working with the FAA to complete air tour management plans under a schedule approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The goal is to bring the agencies in compliance with the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000.
“It has taken more than 20 years and no small amount of litigation to finally force the FAA and park service to implement the National Air Tour Management Act of 2000,” said Paula Dinerstein, general counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which won the court order along with other groups….
Overflights at Hawai’i Volcanoes would be limited to 1,565 a year, down from an average of 11,376 overflights each year between 2017 and 2019.
And at Haleakalā, they would drop to a maximum of 2,412 per year, down from an average of 4,824 during the same three-year period….
read … NPS, FAA propose crackown on S.D., Hawaii air tours
State tax inspectors to hassle small businesses over cash-based businesses
KITV: … this is when state enforcement personnel inspect returns and check to make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes, including taking a closer look at cash based businesses….
Every year, millions of dollar are estimated to exchange hands in Hawaii from cash business transactions.
The state is supposed to get a percentage in the form of taxes.
Another red flag for the special enforcement section: small businesses not filing their returns.
"File on time and file returns that are required. That is the biggest signal something is amiss," said Zane.
Special enforcement personnel spend more of their time going after bigger dollar amounts from vacation rental operators who are not paying their share of general excise taxes.
Their work is making an impact on the state's bottom line.
More than $33-million in enforcement revenue was brought in, for 2021 alone.
The team of 10 employees also spend time on the web, checking out businesses to make they are properly licensed and paying their fair share….
read … State takes closer tax look at cash-based businesses
Honolulu City Council to offer 50% property tax break to 200 businesses impacted by rail construction
KHON: … Honolulu City Councilman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said he and Councilmember Radiant Cordero have a plan they hope will help the 200 or so businesses impacted by construction.
“In a few weeks, we’re going to be introducing a bill that provides some property tax relief to businesses on the Dillingham corridor,” Dos Santos-Tam said.
They want to give landowners a 50% tax break. But Dos Santos-Tam said since many businesses are leases, they want to ensure the savings are passed on to the people operating the businesses….
read … Honolulu City Council to offer 50% property tax break to businesses impacted by rail construction
New homeless facility that long sat idle will soon house medical respite beds
HNN: … the city says it’s on track to open a medical respite facility for the homeless in early June inside an Iwilei housing project that’s been sitting empty for more than a year.
The medical respite facility will provide around the clock, in-patient medical services for homeless people who need care but aren’t sick enough to stay at the hospital, allowing hospitals to free up beds for people who need them.
The project marks the first time the $17 million Homeless Resource Center will be used for its intended purpose….
SA Editorial: Some progress on housing homeless
KHON: I-Team: CORE to operate out of $17.2M City Homeless Resource Center that was once vacant
read … New homeless facility that long sat idle will soon house medical respite beds
Residents alarmed over Kailua Bay’s ‘stench,’ high bacteria levels linked to sewage plant
HNN: … In an unusual news conference Thursday, the state Health director walked back his agency’s critique of how the city communicated the risk of high bacteria levels off Kailua.
The high bacteria levels were fully or partially linked to outfall from a beleaguered wastewater treatment plant.
The news conference was held at city hall, where Mayor Rick Blangiardi bristled at the Health Department’s conclusion that the city had “downplayed” the risks.
“The word downplay to me implies really concerted action to mislead the public,” he told reporters. “We did everything we were supposed to do. We never downplayed anything to mislead the public.”
State Health Director Kenneth Fink also took the podium at the news conference, saying that the city did indeed meet its obligations for alerting the public to the risks of high bacteria levels in the water.
He also added: “The exceedances are problematic.”
Earlier this month, the state urged residents to avoid waters near the Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ocean outfall because of the high bacteria levels.
The state said bacteria levels were more than six times the allowable limit in some cases.
Some longtime Kailua residents said they’ve noticed smells from the water for a long time.
“You can smell the stench. They cannot process the waste. So where do they let it? They let it in the ocean,” said Charles Kalama.
Longtime environmental watchdog Carroll Cox also said the bacterial level exceedances are a problem.
“So this is a repeated offense, exceeding the limits. So at some point someone needs to be issued a citation rather than an apologetic statement,” he said.
DOH says the city is authorized to discharge 15.25 million gallons of wastewater per day from the plant into Kailua Bay….
read … Residents alarmed over Kailua Bay’s ‘stench,’ high bacteria levels linked to sewage plant