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Thursday, May 25, 2023
May 25, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:39 PM :: 1838 Views

Surgeon General Warning: Social Media a profound risk to mental health of children

Wailuku: DLNR, NOAA Raid 'Antique Freak' Shop

Revealed: KSBE, Campbell Estate benefit from Secret Spending Found in Budget Worksheets

CB: … The state began the session with a monumental $2 billion budget surplus, and lawmakers were determined from the start to spend that windfall on one-time costs, such as construction or maintenance projects.

The budget worksheets for the next two years show that much of the extra money was funneled into complex and pricey initiatives in DBEDT, and the department may soon find itself swimming in cash.

For example, the House inserted $100 million into the DBEDT budget to extend and expand a program to loan money to lower-income homeowners and renters to help them install solar energy and battery systems in their homes. (benefit solar industry by providing ‘free’ subsidies) House Speaker Scott Saiki has been an advocate for that initiative.

The Senate, meanwhile, pumped cash into initiatives backed by Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, including $90 million for a complicated project to provide recycled water to irrigate farm land in his district.

Another $200 million was directed to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which is also under DBEDT, and much of that money is backed by Dela Cruz.

That includes $86 million to plan and install infrastructure such as utilities in the Iwilei-Kapalama area to (benefit KSBE by providing ‘free’ infrastructure) encourage development of housing along the rail route being developed in Honolulu. Another $60 million was routed to HCDA to upgrade the electrical grid at Kalaeloa (benefit Campbell Estate by providing ‘free’ infrastructure).

If the agencies fail to award contracts to execute that work or otherwise encumber the money by June 30, 2024, the appropriations expire and the money will lapse back into the state general fund.

Some of those initiatives were announced in a news release during the session, but that distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars drew sharp criticism on the last day of this year’s session….

For example, the new budget gives the Agribusiness Development Corp., another agency under DBEDT that Dela Cruz has championed, more than $106 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget itself does not specify exactly what that $106 million for ADC is to be used for, but the budget worksheets explain that $90 million of that money is earmarked for “water infrastructure.” Another $3 million of the cash is designated for “land acquisition.”

The ADC said in a written response to questions that the $90 million is earmarked to build an irrigation project that will recycle treated effluent from the Wahiawa Wastewater Treatment Plant by distributing the water to farmers. That water from the Wahiawa plant is currently discharged into Lake Wilson ….

read … The Last-Minute Budget Scrum At The Capitol May Cause An Odd Problem: Too Much Cash

When Already? Hawaii Policymakers Just Can't Get Aloha Stadium or HCCC Past The Planning Stage

CB: … Say hello to the upside-down world of Hawaii policymaking where planning means we really don’t have one and deliberation means no one has a clue.

“When” is the ultimate question in politics because policies and laws are just empty words until they are put into effect and implemented.

When will the public see the results? When will the stuff the legislators passed get implemented? When will the damn thing finally be finished?

But really, the question in Hawaii is not just “when?” It’s “when already, when already?”

Policymakers here have developed a language to explain these delays away, to obfuscate them, deflect and put on a pretty face.

This language uses words that on the surface indicate progress but in fact indicate the opposite.

Here’s how this works regarding the new stadium, Hawaii Tourism Authority and the proposed new jail.

When Will We Have A New Stadium?

Aloha Stadium construction and maintenance were badly flawed from the start. After decades of stumbling, deferred-maintenance marches and $20 million already spent on planning fees (not a misprint), the new stadium has gotten nowhere slow.

So, the true answer to when we will have a new stadium is, “Who the hell knows? We don’t even have a plan yet.”

That’s not the answer the public gets, though. The answers we get make it appear that all these pieces are about to fit together just so.

Hawaii has already spent more than $20 million on planning for a new stadium, but there’s still no progress. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Like there is an effective planning process in place. But there isn’t….

read … When Already? Hawaii Policymakers Just Can't Get Past The Planning Stage

Green Announces New Aloha Stadium ‘plan’ ‘with modification’ or something

SA: … Gov. Josh Green was expected to attend the monthly Stadium Authority meeting today to announce the state is moving forward with a modified version of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District plan that has been in the works since 2018.

The adjusted NASED plan will involve one contract with the private sector for the stadium and the rest of the district. The same entity will be charged with developing, building, operating and maintaining the stadium, and have rights to mixed-use development in the surrounding area.

The previous plan called for separate private-sector teams; one for the stadium itself and another for the district.

(After 5 years, this is what they’ve come up with.)

After he took office in December 2022, Green’s administration determined the split-project approach would put too much risk of future funding on the state.

“After careful consideration and months of analysis, we have decided to pursue an integrated public-private-partnership approach for the project,” Green said. “This approach will not only provide us with a much-needed new stadium but also ensure long-term funding and cost overruns are managed by the private sector, reducing the burden on our local taxpayers.”…

The new stadium, planned for the site of the still-standing old Aloha Stadium in Halawa, will be developed and built with public and private funds and is expected to be ready for the 2028 football season, according to a news release today from NASED….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

The non-stadium part of the Halawa project will be built over the next 20 years, according to planners….

(TYPO: “non”) 

SA Editorial: DHHL must make real progress now

read … New Aloha Stadium plan moving forward with modification

$600M DHHL: 161-lot homestead project in Waikapu breaks ground

MN: … The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground Wednesday on a $17 million project that will pave the way for 161 homestead lots in Waikapu — the first project funded through the historic $600 million that lawmakers set aside to help Native Hawaiians on the DHHL waiting list.

“A portion of that was used to fill the gap needed to make this project a reality,” Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairperson Kali Watson said at the groundbreaking ceremony, describing the project as “a vision realized.”…

The Puunani Homestead project, conducted by Dowling Company Inc., will include grading, construction of roads and utility improvements for a 161-lot residential subdivision, according to a DHHL news release Wednesday. The improvements include internal roadways, potable water, sewer, drainage detention basin, utility connections and roadway frontage improvements along Honoapiilani Highway.

Construction is anticipated to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2024, with the first of 137 turn-key homes expected to be offered in the third quarter of 2025, pending the completion of an additional water tank….

DHHL released a plan in December outlining how it proposes to use the funds. Statewide, the department plans to develop 2,727 lots, including 572 in Maui County. In addition to funding the Puunani Homestead Subdivision’s first phase, the plan calls for putting $68 million toward the 250 lots of the Lealii 1B Subdivision in Lahaina and $15 million for the project’s off-site water improvements. It also would put aside $6 million for the 16-lot Naiwa Ag Subdivision on Molokai, $5 million for the 50-lot Honokowai Subsistence Ag Phase 1, $3.5 million for 20 scattered lots in Hoolehua and $2 million for 75 Lanai Residence Lots’ off-site infrastructure, assuming construction funding is available after 2025….

FLASHBACK: Sweet Deal for Maui Developer--DHHL Affordable Housing Credits

read … 161-lot homestead project in Waikapu breaks ground

Former city building chief sentenced to 5 years for role in bribery scheme

HNN: … Wayne Inouye was sentenced to five years in prison and two years of supervised release.

He must also pay $100,000 in fines.

Inouye had pleaded guilty to all charges after accepting over $100,000 between 2012 and 2017 in exchange for expediting permits.

Prosecutors say Inouye took at least $89,000 in bribes from an architect and several thousand dollars from others to approve and expedite their projects ahead of others ….

read … Former city building chief sentenced to 5 years for role in bribery scheme

Hawaii and California are the LEAST affordable places to live in the U.S. as incomes fail to keep up with soaring property prices

UKDM: … It found that homes in Hawaii now cost $831,629 while joint incomes have stalled to $132,629.

It effectively means a family on an average wage has been priced out of the tropical haven as a home with a 3.5 percent down payment would end up costing them $5,930 a month in mortgage costs. That is assuming an interest rate of 6.96 percent.

This would not be possible under US borrowing rules which mean homeowners can only take out a mortgage that would cost less than 28 percent of their monthly income.

In Hawaii, 28 percent of the average income would be $3,090 per month - nearly $2,000 short of what they'd need.

And single people looking to buy a home in Hawaii are even worse off as the average solo income is just $66,220 ….

read … Hawaii and California are the LEAST affordable places to live in the U.S as incomes fail to keep up with soaring property prices. So how does YOUR state compare?

Oahu medical calls up 20% since pre-COVID

SA: … calls related to self-harm or suicide attempts also have risen, Ireland said. “Which is really concerning to me because I think that shows people are hurting in our population and they feel helpless; where they’re doing things to hurt themselves and we’re responding to those as well,” he said.

An increase in drug-related overdoses — particularly involving the opiate fentanyl — is also of concern.

“I just noticed that instead of maybe one or two overdoses a day we’d be going on five overdoses a day. There was one day I counted 15 (overdoses),” Ireland said. “And it was young people; I saw one last week as young as 14, and so people are hurting out there and I don’t know why … but really I think we need, at some point, the mental health experts to weigh in and give folks an avenue to get the help (so) they don’t feel they have to do this.”…

read … Oahu medical calls up 20% since pre-COVID

Federal judge awards $30M to former military family in Tripler Medical Center malpractice case

HNN: … U.S. District Court Judge Michael Seabright awarded $30 million in damages on Monday to a former military family in an incident at the hospital that happened more than six years ago.

In 2016, the Warren family took their one-month-old baby to Tripler in critical condition. The family’s lawyers say she needed immediate life-saving surgery for twisted intestines but did not get it until 19 hours later at Kapiolani Medical Center.

“The Tripler doctors watched this child die. They watched her small intestine die. They didn’t know what was wrong because they didn’t run the test. And over 19 hours, her small intestine could have been saved,” said Loretta Sheehan, an attorney at Davis Levin Livingston representing the family.

It’s not the first time the federal government has had to pay for malpractice at the Tripler Army Medical Center.

In the last 10 years, there have been nearly $100 million in settlements and legal damages….

SA: Tripler Army Medical Center to pay $29.5M in malpractice case

read … Federal judge awards $30M to former military family in Tripler Medical Center malpractice case

Narrow Walkway only Route in or out of Pearl City Rail Station

KHON: … In order to get to the Pearl Highlands rail station, guests will have to cross traffic using a crosswalk, but once they get to the other side, they’ll have to use a narrow sidewalk….

“That makes it unsafe for my neighbors, for me, for residents throughout our area and we’re going to have a lot of people using it from Waipahu and Mililani as well,” Doran said. “So it’s beyond Pearl City and we need that to be done in order for it to be safe.”…

The Department of Transportation Services said it’s looking into an interim solution by installing a raised speed cushion at the crosswalk, in addition to a speed hump. It hopes to do so by the rail opening date.

“Even longer term, DTS has already applied for federal funding to ultimately fund an elevated crosswalk, but candidly that’s years away,” said Roger Morton, DTS director.

Area council members said the short-term solutions might not be enough.

“I’m not even sure the raised crosswalk will actually address the issue right now to make sure no one gets accidentally hit,” said Val Okimoto, Honolulu City Councilmember….

read … ‘What should the public expect?’ Concerns over access to rail station sparks action

City parking meter upgrades aimed to fix nearly $5M loss

KHON: … There are about 4,000 on-street parking meters stretched across Oahu. Customers’ money goes in, but the City isn’t seeing a complete return in revenue.

According to the Department of Transportation Services, the current parking meter program is seeing a $4.75 million annual net loss. DTS said, those funds are subsidized by real property taxes.

The department added that the program generates about $5 million and costs about $10 million to operate, but this varies each year….

DTS said, one issue is coin-only meters and there are about 2,000 of them.

“So, coins are very expensive to collect. Staff have to go out and collect at each meter and count them and post that type of revenue,” said Clark.

Another issue is outdated parking rates that DTS said have not been increased in several years along with lack of parking enforcement.

According to DTS, data shows that near Ala Moana Center and Keeaumoku there are many people parking but only a few are actually paying.

Now, a $4 million project is underway to upgrade all meters to help fix that.

“With the new meters, they’ll have sensors that are looking 24/7, 365. Both us and the customers will be able to see in real time what spaces are occupied versus who’s actually paying. So, that’s something that can help with targeted enforcement,” Clark said.

Digging deeper, KHON2 found that despite the costly operations of collecting coins, DTS is required to continue to accept them due to a City ordinance. However, the department wants to go coin-less in the future….

read … City parking meter upgrades aimed to fix nearly $5M loss

Next Year's Elections Are Already Taking Shape — Quickly

CB: … the world knows that the octogenarian incumbent will run for reelection. And it seems his April announcement cleared the field of any other serious Democratic contenders. Marianne Williamson, Oprah’s former spiritual adviser, is still in the race along with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist. Neither candidate appears viable despite the latter’s dynastic family name….

(ATTENTION Antivaxxers:  You can’t vote for RFK unless you quit the Republican Party and join the Democratic Party.)

How can Hawaii residents get involved in presidential campaigns? Both parties are firming up their plans for their 2024 presidential caucuses. Hawaii’s Democratic presidential preference poll to select the party’s nominee is scheduled to take place in person on April 6 (pending DNC approval) and by mail. Interested voters must be members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii to participate.

The Hawaii Republican Party’s caucuses are expected to take place in person on March 12. To vote for a Republican nominee, interested voters will also need to officially be in the Hawaii Republican Party….

read … Next Year's Elections Are Already Taking Shape — Quickly

HPD Officers Fail to Kill Felon, Get Sued

CB: … Ten officers got out of the way of Kitzmiller’s moving vehicle, but Goshi “placed himself directly” in the vehicle’s path with his gun drawn. Once the car was stopped, Goshi shot five times through the front passenger window, almost killing Kitzmiller.

An officer then pulled him out of the car and a group of officers then began kicking and hitting him. At one point, an officer punched and struck him at least 19 times with “what appeared to be a flashlight.”

Kitzmiller survived after undergoing surgery for three gunshot wounds to his torso. He was later charged with criminal property damage and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, both felonies, and misdemeanor reckless endangering for firing a gun. He pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to go to trial in October.

At a press conference soon after the shooting, then-acting Chief Rade Vanic said that Kitzmiller was “exiting his vehicle with a gun brandished in his hand and pointing toward the direction of the officer.”

The lawsuit claims Kitzmiller was unarmed….

2021: Felon, 27, shot by Honolulu police during Kalihi arrest makes court appearance

read … Lawsuit: HPD Officer Violated Policy When He Shot A Man In A Car

Legislative Agenda:

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