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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
June 6, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:31 PM :: 2864 Views

Some gems amid Legislature’s overspending?

Hawaii Economy 5th-Worst in USA

Hawaii Republican Party Closes Headquarters 

Marijuana Dispensary Oligopoly Enforcers: Court Upholds Drug Raid on Pinky's Hempire 

State gives Joseph Crime Family Shooters Probation after father of seven is killed, then they get arrested in Federal drug, road rage case

SA: Sheysten James Ikaika Joseph, 22, was arrested by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent on suspicion of being a felon in possession of ammunition in connection with an April 9 road rage incident near Ko Olina where Joseph was the passenger in a car driven by Seth Zachary Owens, 22, who allegedly pointed a ghost gun at a woman and her three children.

Owens was indicted May 25 on suspicion of being a felon in possession of ammunition and is at the Federal Detention Center, Honolulu, before his trial starts at 9 a.m. July 24 before U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi….

… Both Joseph and Nash are on state (key word: ‘state’)  probation in connection with a Nov. 20, 2019, fight that led to the deadly shooting of 39-year-old Micaiah McCullah, a father of seven children and a youth football coach, who was killed during the brawl….

The DEA and Homeland Security Investigations (hello: ‘federal’) are working with Honolulu police on an ongoing investigation into a drug trafficking organization that resulted in the execution of search warrants in April at the home and affiliated businesses of a Waianae family that is one of the targets of the investigation.

At a community meeting on crime in Maili on Wednesday, Sabrina Grace-Dereis, who claimed she was a former federal informant, gave binders to HPD Narcotics/Vice Major Mike Lambert, City Council member Andria Tupola and Hono­lulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm that contained pictures of the man whose property was searched by police and federal agents, his alleged personal affiliations and a business that is allegedly used to launder drug money.

On May 30, DEA agents got an arrest warrant for Joseph in connection with the Ko Olina road rage incident. Two days later, on Thursday, DEA agents and Honolulu Police Department officers conducted an operation in Waianae to arrest Joseph….

On May 17, Joseph was convicted of first-degree assault and place to keep pistol or revolver, and sentenced to five years of probation on each count. (Pathetic.)  Nash is also on five years of probation after he was convicted in the same state case of attempted first-degree assault and place to keep pistol or revolver.  In that case, Nash and Joseph were part of a group of 10 to 20 men who came to the park for a prearranged fight at the park’s basketball court, according to court records….

read … 2 arrested in federal drug, West Oahu road rage case

Rail Contracts for Downtown Electrical Reconnections--One Billion and Counting

CB: … In 2018 HART awarded a contract for up to $400 million to Nan Inc. to relocate an estimated 40 miles of utility lines running along the last four miles of the rail route, but that plan flopped. Progress under that contract stalled because HART was unable to get the necessary approvals for the utility work.

By the time HART terminated that contract in 2021, Nan had run up a tab with the city for more than $101 million, but had completed less than 10% of the necessary work.

Last year HART awarded a new $496.2 million contract to Nan for utility relocation along Dillingham, and awarded another contract for $217.7 million to Coluccio to relocate utilities along the rail route through downtown and Kakaako.

But according to HART Project Director Nathaniel “Nate” Meddings, those new contracts included only backbone infrastructure such as excavating and installing conduit through those neighborhoods. They did not include materials, equipment and labor for actually hooking up Hawaiian Electric Co. customers along the route.

Meddings told the HART board in March that items such as cabling and transformers to connect customers to the new infrastructure were not included in the two new contracts because HECO had not completed the designs for that work when the contracts went out to bid.

That extra cost for making the customer connections is now coming due. On Thursday the HART Project Oversight Committee will hear a request from rail authority staff for a $21.87 million contract amendment for Coluccio to handle that work in downtown and Kakaako….

read … Rail Authority Board To Consider A Hefty Contract Increase For Electrical Connections

Star-Adv: Veto $50 million for tech campus

SA Editorial: … Not only is this spending nonessential, its approval shows that the review of final bills at the end of session needs reform to avoid some of this confusion in the future.

A late revision to projected tax collections from the Council on Revenues has compelled Green to claw back $270 million from the spending plan the Legislature handed to him upon adjourning for the year.

In a May 25 interview on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” webcast, Green was not specific about where the cuts would fall, other than saying that housing and expenditures for homelessness, education and climate projects would be protected.

The ones the governor plans to cross off the spending plan should be clear by June 16-19, he said, when the final budget is released, although his full “intent to veto” list isn’t due until June 26.

“I’m a little reluctant to start other large projects until we’ve dealt with what’s fundamental to society here,” he said.

Well, that’s a hint, or should be. Among the projects that hardly qualify as “fundamental to society” is the expansive, 243-acre campus for as many as 19 law-enforcement, fire, defense and other emergency-response government agencies. That project has a price tag of somewhere between $315 million and $470 million at full build-out — and taxpayers know only too well about cost overruns in Hawaii….

read … Veto $50 million for tech campus

Distraction: Oahu homeowners might get $350 one-time tax credit

SA: … The Honolulu City Council’s pending approval Wednesday of Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s proposed $3.41 billion operating budget for next fiscal year might include a $300 one-time tax credit the administration seeks to give to nearly 152,000 qualifying homeowners, a city official said.

“The Council members are going to propose adding a little more to that — $50 more — so we’re going to get up to about $350,” Budget and Fiscal Services Director Andrew Kawano said Monday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” livestream program. “So, depending on where you are in terms of the value of your property, if you’re a homeowner — let’s say at the average, a million dollars — having a $350 tax credit is equivalent to having an exemption of $100,000.”

Previously, the city said the $300 tax rebate would cost about $45.6 million to implement. If approved at $350, that cost would rise to approximately $53.2 million….

read … Oahu homeowners might get $350 tax credit

Governor replaces school board chair who challenged public school leaders

HNN: … Gov. Josh Green has decided there needs to be new leadership of Hawaii’s public schools and so is replacing School Board Chair Bruce Voss, an attorney known for challenging the department leadership, with a veteran businessman with few education credentials.

Warren Haruki, who recently retired as CEO of Maui Land and Pine and previously served as President of Hawaiian Tel and Verizon, will be interim board chair on July 1.

While some criticize the appointment as political, the governor says Haruki will help bring people together.

(Translation: HSTA and HGEA wanted Voss gone.)

“The new incoming chair was highly recommended by some of the legislative leadership, which I appreciate, you know, I’m working collaboratively with them whenever possible,” Green said….

(Translation: HSTA and HGEA wanted Voss gone.)

Critics of the appointment cite Voss’ long tenure on the board which enabled him to pointedly challenge DOE leadership, demanding specifics in their plans and goals for public schools.

Voss’ replacement as chair concerned state Rep. Amy Perruso, a longtime observer of public school leadership.

“We are running the risk of having a lack of oversight and accountability for the department,” Perruso said, “and right when we need it most. We need to have more educated, knowledgeable oversight, not less.”…

Supporters of Haruiki, including state Senate Education Chair Michelle Kidani, said (blablabla)

Because the Legislature is not in session, the new appointees, including another to replace Voss as an at-large member, will not undergo Senate confirmation until next year….

June 3, 2023: Green Replaces Board of Education Chair

read … Governor replaces school board chair who challenged public school leaders

‘Startling’ number of officer vacancies at HPD spur public safety concerns

HNN: … HPD says it needs to fill about 390 vacancies ― or nearly 20% of the entire force.

Despite repeated requests, HPD wouldn’t do an on-camera interview for this story. In an email, a spokesperson said the department’s officer shortage isn’t impacting public safety.

But not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

“The numbers are starting to get concerning,” said retired HPD deputy chief John McCarthy.

“The more vacancies you have, the more that impact is felt by the community. And crooks, they notice. They see areas are short. They know that areas aren’t going to be covered.” ….

read … ‘Startling’ number of officer vacancies at HPD spur public safety concerns

Advocates of 'reasonable' gun control laws don't want any firearms at all

WT: … Gun control advocates keep claiming they just want “reasonable” gun control, but self-defense advocates are understandably skeptical.

New York and New Jersey cover their states with gun-free zones to the point of making concealed carry impractical. Hawaii’s Legislature is now proposing to charge permit holders $1,000 in fees. None of that is reasonable. Nor is it reasonable when President Biden keeps talking about banning all semi-automatic guns, which account for about 85% of handguns sold….

read …  Advocates of 'reasonable' gun control laws don't want any firearms at all

ACLU criticizes county, threatens legal action over homeless sweeps

HTH: … In a letter sent Friday to Mayor Mitch Roth, Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz, Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina and Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Strance, Wookie Kim, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii, criticized the county’s decision to forcibly evict nearly two dozen homeless people May 24 from the Hale Halawai beach park in Kailua-Kona.

In the letter, Kim cited the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case Martin v. Boise, which ruled that such law enforcement actions are unconstitutional when the county cannot provide adequate shelters….

HTH: Trial set in Salvation Army shooting

read … ACLU criticizes county, threatens legal action over homeless sweeps

Kaua‘i’s Nawiliwili Stream ranked nation’s most frequently polluted beach

TGI: … Across the U.S. and beyond, Kaua‘i is number one at dumping number two.

Kalapaki Bay’s Nawiliwili Stream is the most consistently overpolluted beach tested by national environmental group Surfrider Foundation, according to the group’s annual report on water quality.

Throughout 2022, the organization collected more than 9,000 water samples from 496 beaches, streams and surf sites across all 50 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Canada’s Vancouver Island. At each site, researchers tested waters for the enterococcus bacterium, a federally recognized indicator of fecal presence in water.

Of the organization’s 10 highest priority beaches noted in their 2022 Clean Water Report, Nawiliwili Stream is the only site in which every test showed bacteria rates exceeding state health standards. Even worse, the report notes the stream hasn’t tested within state standards since 2016….

REALITY: Feds Debunk Surfrider's Fake Bacteria Counts

read … Kaua‘i’s Nawiliwili Stream ranked nation’s most frequently polluted beach

Group to sue over Kailua-Kona sewage discharges

SA: … A group of citizens intends to file a civil suit against Hawaii County over the discharge of sewage into a popular local harbor in Kailua-Kona.

Earthjustice, which is representing Hui Malama Honokohau — made up of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, fishers and recreational ocean users of Honokohau harbor — on May 24 filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue over ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Earthjustice said the county discharges about 1.7 million gallons of treated sewage per day from its North Kona plant via groundwater into the Pacific Ocean.

The treated sewage goes into a natural disposal pit in a permeable field upslope of the harbor, according to Earthjustice. Multiple, peer-reviewed scientific studies confirm that this treated sewage enters the groundwater beneath the pit and then flows with it into nearshore ocean waters including the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

All of this, the notice said, is happening without a required National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, which would ensure the discharges meet water quality standards….

read … Group to sue over Kailua-Kona sewage discharges

Will Condotels Be Allowed to Fall into Ocean? -- One way to eliminate competition to unionized hotels

CB: … Decades ago, the Kahana condominiums, like so many other hotels and coastal estates, were simply built too close to the shoreline. The structures and their seawalls sped up erosion, and now that seas are rising even faster because of climate change, coastal properties across West Maui are in the throes of an existential crisis. 

A couple of miles away in Kaanapali, a resort group had for years planned to partner with the state to spend millions of dollars hauling in sand from offshore to widen its white-sand beach. But the resorts are now having to come up with a new plan after the Board of Land and Natural Resources in March shot it down amid concerns from residents about using public dollars to protect private property. In the years to come, state officials will also be charged with vetting the Kahana condo owners’ plan if it moves forward.

But first, the Kahana condo owners are trying to convince county officials to help them finance the project. During Monday’s council meeting, Foley detailed how, if nothing is done, the county could end up losing about $11 million in tax revenue each year if the 961 condominiums worth roughly $600 million in total are lost. Then there are the dangers to people and the environment if buildings begin to collapse into the sea. 

Moving the condos away from the shoreline, however, could take two decades and cost more than a half-billion dollars, Foley said.

So the property owners are proposing a fix they hope could last decades: hauling in up to 100,000 cubic yards of sand to create a continuous, three-quarter-mile-long stretch of beach in front of the condominiums, some of which have no beach at all. Crews would also restore the natural features on the beach by growing native plants, while at the same time constructing manmade rock barriers in the ocean to stop sand from getting sucked away again. …

Big Q: Should the state help pay to replenish beaches where hotels/condos are at risk?

read … Using a new financing tool to replenish the beach.

Legislative Agenda:

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