Kakaako Makai Construction News: Gay Nightclub Backing Transsexual Challenger to House Speaker
CB: … Last week marked a noticeable uptick in the number of fundraisers being held or scheduled as the 2024 election season continues. A new-ish state law, passed in 2022, banned fundraising events during the legislative session and it would seem some candidates — incumbents and challengers — could hardly wait for it to be over. More than a dozen lawmakers and the Honolulu mayor got in on the action as soon as they could….
… the biggest bash award goes to Kim Coco Iwamoto who appears to be once again taking on House Speaker Scott Saiki for the District 25 seat that covers downtown, Kakaako and Ala Moana. Her Saturday night fundraiser at the Encore Saloon (up to $2,000 to get in) was followed by a Birthday Dance Party on Sunday at Scarlet Honolulu. Only $25 for a ticket that included two drinks, but the party was scheduled to go until 2 a.m….
Translation: Scarlet handed over its cover charge revenue to Kim Coco.
Visualization: Large yellow cranes over Kakaako Makai.
Related: Is OHA Stupid?
read … Fundraisers Are Back
Another $100M to Back GEMS Scam Loans
SA: … The program, called Green Energy Market Securitization, or GEMS, and operated by the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority, began operating in 2015 with $150 million limited to solar systems without battery storage, and has $12 million remaining to lend despite initially being branded as a failure….
Another big change that invigorated program use came in 2019 when an arrangement was created so that loan repayment would be part of a system owner’s monthly utility bill.
Yamamoto-Lau called this on-bill financing feature a “game-changer” for GEMS.
read … Solar loan program gets $100M recharge
Hawaii moves to lure mainland doctors
SA: … The measure, which must still be signed into law by Gov. Josh Green, has broad support from the health care industry, which hopes it will ease Hawaii’s doctor shortage, improve access to medical specialists particularly in rural parts of the state, and increase access to telemedicine.
Currently, it can take months for doctors to obtain a license to practice in Hawaii, a process that is overseen by the Hawaii Medical Board. By joining the compact, that process is expected to be shortened to a couple of weeks. In 2022 more than half of applicants received a license in seven days or less from the time their application was deemed qualified, according to data compiled by the commission that oversees the compact….
With the support of Green’s administration, lawmakers inserted $60 million in the state biennium budget to boost reimbursement rates for Medicaid, the government health insurance plan that primarily covers low-income and residents with disabilities. State officials expect that funding to be matched by $43 million in federal funding annually through the 2025 fiscal year.
Medicaid patients often find that doctors won’t take their health insurance because of the low reimbursement rates. The increased funding will align Medicaid rates with Medicare, the government insurance program for seniors, which pays about 38% more than Medicaid.
Hawaii has also created a loan repayment program for medical professionals who commit to working in Hawaii, allocating $30 million to the initiative over the next two years.
If SB 674 becomes law, doctors in other states could begin practicing in Hawaii under the streamlined licensing process in 2025. The compact allows doctors to practice medicine in multiple states within the compact by completing just one application, rather than going through the often cumbersome process of applying for separate licenses in each state.
States that have joined the compact have on average seen a 10% to 15% increase in the number of physicians being licensed in their state…
read … Hawaii moves to lure mainland doctors
Hawaii Lawmakers Did Not Fund The Overpass To Kihei’s New High School
CB: … The ongoing effort to build a protected pedestrian crossing over a bustling highway to Kihei’s new high school has hit yet another barrier: Lawmakers didn’t put money in the state budget this past session to build it. …
Sen. Angus McKelvey, whose district includes South Maui, said he added $15 million for the project into the Senate’s draft of the state’s spending plan, even though he wasn’t explicitly asked to do so by DOE officials. But the money didn’t make it into the final version of the budget vetted by lawmakers in the House….
It’s unclear why the $15 million didn’t make it in. Rep. Kyle Yamashita, who represents Upcountry Maui and chairs the House Finance Committee, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
In an email statement, South Maui Rep. Terez Amato said she had been told that the project was “unlikely” to be funded by lawmakers because of its cost. She put in a request for federal funding in February in hopes of getting it covered but was told that wouldn’t be decided on until the fall.
DOE officials had previously said it could take three years to build the pedestrian bridge over Piilani Highway. It’s unknown how much longer the project might take now….
The DOE is sitting on more than $2 billion in unspent money for major construction projects — more than $1 billion of which will expire if not spent by the summer of 2024, according to the DOE’s website….
read … Hawaii Lawmakers Did Not Fund The Overpass To Kihei’s New High School
Will Honolulu City Council Vote On Salary Increases?
CB: … With the Salary Commission’s proposed pay increases set to kick in with the new fiscal year on July 1, the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board is rallying other boards to pressure Honolulu City Council members into holding a vote on the measure.
Council members are set to receive a controversial 64% boost to their pay pending no further action….
If nothing changes, the increase will kick in with the new fiscal year on July 1. But it can be stopped if three quarters of the council – at least seven members – vote to reject it.
Council members Augie Tulba and Andria Tupola introduced two resolutions against the proposed salaries to do just that, but council members haven’t been able to vote on them because Waters hasn’t scheduled their resolutions for a hearing, nor have a majority of members brought it to the floor….
read … Honolulu City Council To Vote On Salary Increases?
A struggle trying to vote for neighborhood board
SA: … We followed the instructions that were mailed to us for online voting on our neighborhood board ballot. After going through the process, the result was, “Unable to submit your vote. Please try again.” My wife and I each tried different browsers at different times of the day and night, with the same results every time.
A phone call to the elections hotline was greeted with bewilderment. They had no solution except to recommend that we drive to the Dillingham office and use their computer, which we did. The voting failed there as well. They promised to mail us a paper ballot; and in fact they did, so we did get to vote….
read … A struggle trying to vote for neighborhood board
Changed Visitor Habits Crush Hawaii Travel Outlook
BH: … The softness in Hawaii travel bookings, aka better deals ahead, started to rear its head as far back as December 2022 when there was an unexpected lack of visitor performance during a time of year that should have been outperforming….“Word on the street in Hawaii is that advance bookings for traditionally stellar July are currently off by up to one-third.”…
Two Beat of Hawaii editors were in Europe earlier this month. They report that the crowding there is unprecedented. And when returning there later this summer, they find virtually sold-out conditions at many places on the continent. While in London, the number of American tourists was simply nuts! Italy’s biggest bank said last week, “Today in Italy, we have this boom in terms of tourism that is unbelievable.” Earlier this year Italy reported that foreign tourism was running more than 70% higher than in 2022. The same trend is true in Spain, Portugal and other European countries.
The cost of travel to Europe is no more, and in many cases is less, than travel to Hawaii. While airlines, car Hawaii car rentals, Hawaii vacation rentals, and Hawaii hotels all had the notion that no amount was too high, we’d suggest they judged that incorrectly.
With the cost of a Hawaii vacation for the first time eclipsing that of a European vacation, Hawaii may find a shift in pricing is in order. We’ll see how that pans out….
read … Changed Visitor Habits Crush Hawaii Travel Outlook
Kuhio Beach Packed with Homeless Criminals
SA: …“The graffiti people, the gang people, the drug people, the homeless — it’s like this whole crew goes there because it’s the only park that’s open that late,” Deutzman said….“My analysis of crime data supplied by the District 6 Community Policing Team shows crime in Waikiki is down significantly,” he said. “The decrease in crime coincides with an increase in consequences — arrests, prosecution, and sentencing. However, there are still areas that are packed with troublemakers. The cement picnic table area across from Ohua (Avenue) is dangerous and uninhabitable for residents and tourists.”
CB: Will A Change In Hours Help Curb Crime At This Popular Waikiki Beach?
read … Kuhio Beach hours to change for safety, cleanliness’ sake