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Sunday, June 25, 2023
June 25, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:11 PM :: 1807 Views

The politician and the Skyline buzzsaw

Kauai: Sterile Mosquito Plan Released

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 24, 2023

Happy Day for Hawaii Healthcare

Economic Misfortune Can Fix Our “Shadow Budget”

$10B Later: Rail Fluff-Pieces Fill Media--but 62% of Public Doesn’t Care

Big Q: Do you plan to ride Skyline, Honolulu’s new rail system, during the free first days (June 30-July 4)?  -- 62% ‘No, not interested’ 

CB: The Sunshine Blog: Journalists On A Train And Other Items Of Interest

SA Editorial: Get public ready to try rail system

SA: Skyline: Honolulu rail rolls out after years of delays, cost overruns

SA: Skyline: Interactive timeline of Honolulu’s rail system

SA: Skyline: Honolulu’s new rail line begins in East Kapolei

CB:  Inside Honolulu’s Six-Decade Fight Over Rail: It’s Always Been ‘Boondoggle Or Boon’

Rail: ‘Special Tax’ is also over budget and behind schedule

Borreca: … The planning was always for an end at Ala Moana, until the money ran out.

It was supposed to run 20 miles with 21 stations and be completed in 2031. But like I said, it isn’t pau yet. It is now planned as eventually going 18.9 miles with 19 stations, terminating in Kakaako with Ala Moana viewed as an extension.

Blangiardi said at a press conference that the “Skyline name gives a new start for a system already more than 2 1/2 years late and expected to cost more than $10 billion, up from an original estimate of $5.12 billion.”

The money part is the other thing about Skyline that isn’t pau. “The sky’s the limit” may also end up being the cost of Skyline.

The original scheme was for a special tax to pay for Skyline.

As mentioned in the Star-Advertiser, Oahu’s “rail tax” — the 0.5% surcharge added to the state general excise tax — was originally set to expire at the end of 2022 but was extended to 2030….

Remember that neither the train nor the special rail tax are pau now….

read … Skyline will open June 30, but it won’t be pau for a while

General excise tax surcharge to be focus of evening meeting

MN: … A Maui County Council committee will hold an evening meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss and receive input on a bill that would add a 0.5 percent surcharge on the 4 percent state general excise tax.

The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee has met twice so far to discuss adding the surcharge, which other counties have previously adopted. A bill recently passed by the state Legislature reopened the window for counties to decide whether to add on the surcharge, which is what Maui County is now considering….

BH: How Will Maui Tax Hike Proposal Be Received?

CB: Should Maui Raise The General Excise Tax? Public Can Weigh In Monday

CB: More and more Native Hawaiians are leaving the islands in favor of Sin City

read … General excise tax surcharge to be focus of evening meeting

64% Raise for Passive-Aggressive Greedy Sluggards

Shapiro: … City Council Chair Tommy Waters pushed through 64% pay raises for himself and his colleagues over public outrage, claiming it will ultimately result in better Council members who work full time. Meantime, we’ll have to make do with the same greedy sluggards, except for 64% more.

The Council passed a $3.4 billion operating budget to fund the city in the next fiscal year, and Waters described it as a “guiding document that demonstrates our priorities.” Which are: 1. Themselves. 2. Other public workers. 3. Wealthy campaign donors.

And the quote of the month … from Council member Val Okimoto on pay raises: “I fully understand the plight of the everyday people. I understand because I am one.” If only the rest of us everyday people could give ourselves 64% raises just by playing passive-aggressive….

read … Council joins upper crust; rail’s new name goes thud

Affirmative Action at University Of Hawaii -- Economic, not Racial

CB: … The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions this month in two related cases — Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and the same organization versus the University of North Carolina….

Given the conservative 6 to 3 majority on the court, the expectation is that it will end the use of race as a factor in evaluating student applications to college. 

Such a decision will reverse previous Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action in college admissions, beginning with its University of California v. Bakke decision in 1978. The court asserted that universities have a “compelling interest” in ensuring diversity for the educational benefits that it provides for all students, not just racial minorities. …

UH recruitment programs directed to certain student populations can be considered race-neutral because of their emphasis on socioeconomic and educational disadvantage, rather than race, ethnicity or indigeneity, for accepting participants. 

At UH Manoa, the College Opportunities Program is perhaps the oldest such recruitment initiative for Hawaii students. COP began in 1970 with federal funds, but starting in 1973 the Legislature provided it with line-item funding, indicative of its strong support for the program.

COP is aimed at Hawaii high school graduates who may not meet the minimum admission requirements for UH Manoa such as GPA, are socioeconomically disadvantaged and academically underprepared, yet demonstrate potential for college success. Participants who successfully complete the COP summer residential program at UH Manoa are admitted for the fall semester and receive academic advising during freshman year. 

Another recruitment program, the Manoa Access Initiative or MAI, meaning “welcome” in olelo Hawaii, is a collaboration between the Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity that began in 2015. Participants, who must be Hawaii residents, are selected by the admissions office from applicants who closely missed meeting the minimum requirements for admission. 

They are accepted at UH Manoa on the condition that they participate in MAI program activities, including enrolling in a designated Ethnic Studies 101 introductory course as a cohort their first semester. Students also participate in a weekly “lab” section focused on developing their academic skills for college. …

read … The End Of Affirmative Action Likely Would Not Affect The University Of Hawaii

After Mass Arrests of Staff, DPP Vacancies Cause Delays

SA: … Currently, these large rolled-up paper plans, fondly referred to as “trees,” require staff to physically log in, unroll, roll and carry the plans to and from their assigned plans examiner. Staff must manually stamp each page for approval. Paper plans are often misplaced and picked up by the wrong applicants. Paper plans must be contracted out for scanning and conversion to electronic files and recordkeeping.

The physical routing and transport of plans among the various outside agencies, as well as to and from the applicant for revisions, takes substantial time, which is calculated within the permitting process times. All of this can be eliminated with a simple click of a button. ePlans will eliminate the need to provide multiple sets (typically three) of paper plans, and the final approved plans will be available electronically for easy downloading. And, DPP staff can be reassigned to more effectively perform building permit prescreen and code review, and speak directly with applicants as was done back in the day.

Notably, the backlog itself cannot be attributed to ePlans, but largely other factors, such as high vacancy rates coupled with difficulty in filling positions, lack of training and standard operating procedures that create inconsistent reviews, and two-decades-old permitting software that lacks automation. ePlans for commercial projects is not the silver bullet, but is among the many improvements we are working on, including adding server capacity to ePlans, hiring more staff, streamlining the prescreen process, developing training and standard operating procedures, and upgrading our permitting software.

Another contributor to building permit wait times is low-quality plans, which require greater review by DPP staff and multiple cycles between our reviewers and applicants. Sometimes, applicants fail to address comments cycle after cycle. We continue to support our customers, but we should not be constantly developing the plans for them. To this end, we are working on elevating the quality by providing more information to applicants on requirements, as well as disincentivizing bad quality, which may mean rejection of plans after a certain number of egregious errors….

read ... ePlans needed for commercial projects

Liquor Bills Introduced Anonymously -- backed by “a well known Hilo guy”

CB: … bills still come in "by request," which prevents the public from knowing who is behind them ….

This year five such “BR” bills passed, including one that allows businesses with liquor licenses who serve meals to sell unopened beer, wine and prepackaged cocktails with food for pick up, delivery or take out. House Bill 16 is now law.

It was supported by Retail Merchants of Hawaii, the Maui Chamber of Commerce and a half dozen local breweries,

The bill’s introducer, Big Island Rep. Chris Todd, said he was contacted by a member of the Hawaii County Department of Liquor Control in 2017 not long after Todd replaced the late Clift Tsuji. Todd described the commissioner as “a well known Hilo guy” who was trying to clean up liquor license regulations.

Todd did not identify the individual by name, explaining, “This is really an amalgam of people connected to the liquor commission but not one individual.” He said that, over the years, he has introduced similar bills, which Todd described as “clean up bills” regarding regulations.

Todd’s bills include House Bill 137, a measure passed in 2022 that is now law. It pertains to liquor licensing, tax law and investigations, and its supporters included the Liquor Commission of the City and County of Honolulu but also Beer Lab HI and the Hawaiian Craft Brewers Guild. HB 137 was also introduced by request without identifying the party.

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Promised More Transparency. But They Still Allow Bills To Be Introduced Anonymously

CNHA Wants to Take Over Hotels

SA: … CNHA ALREADY has tourism workforce development programs and is in talks to secure a management contract for Native Hawaiians to run a hotel in Waikiki or Kaanapali, according to Lewis….

“That’s probably a few years out. We have to get our footing. We have a lot of people to prove wrong,” he said.

The organization also hopes to take over the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell and turn it into a Hawaiian attraction, and wants to bring back the Kodak Hula Show but call it the Kilohana Show. Lewis said they are exploring development of farm and fishpond tours as well.

He added that CNHA’s decision to hold an annual convention on the mainland also creates an opportunity to launch a grassroots tourism ambassador program with lahui (Native Hawaiians) on the mainland….

read …Tourism plans extend beyond stewardship contract, CNHA says

Green signs bill protecting the work of journalists

SA: … Act 126 protects traditional, nontraditional and online journalists by limiting “compelled disclosure of sources or unpublished information for journalists, newscasters, and persons participating in the collection or dissemination of news or information of substantial public interest,” while establishing exceptions, according to the Shield Law Steering Committee, which has been working since 2008 to get legislation permanently on the books….

Ihara (D, Palolo-Kaimuki- Moiliili) previously told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser that in January he happened upon a 2013 news story about how Hawaii lost its shield law. He said that then-state Sen. Clayton Hee was “hostile to the media” during the 2013 Legislature’s review of a bill, HB 622, that would have removed the sunset date on Hawaii’s shield law….

(Key word: ‘Hee’)

(Key number: ‘2013’)

2012: Henkin: Rumors of Hee-Wooley Affair “Scurrilous”

read … Green signs bill protecting the work of journalists

“Lack of police action” as Oahu family chased in apparent road rage incident

KITV: … A scary car chase situation for a military family transpired Father's Day, originating in Waimanalo.

Traveling with her husband and young child, Alice Franco De Steppe stopped at a fruit stand.

From there, the couple believes they were potentially victims of a hate crime. After stopping at the stand, somebody yelled, "You don't belong here." Alice's husband was allegedly assaulted. When trying to leave, the couple says they were chased by multiple cars.

Three cars reportedly chased Alice and her family, it ensued for several miles all the way to Aina Haina Elementary School.

Alice told KITV4 that prior to the chase, "We could not leave the scene, because they were blocking us, in which we called 911 dispatch, for help when we did have a moment to leave the scene."

Alice added, "We drove about a block or two blocks away, continuing to contact 911 and give them our location - when that occurred, the same people followed us, parked in front of our car, came out of the car with profanities and that's where the assault happened, the woman assaulted my husband - the male assaulted my husband, after the assault happened, we rolled up our windows of the vehicle, we got out of there."

"We want to bring light to the public the lack of police action, for the woman that not only endangered our family, but her three small children," said Alice.

Alice added that her family's car was rammed into during the chase.

One person was arrested and later released pending an investigation….

read … Oahu family chased in apparent road rage incident

Hawaiʻi State Art Museum hosts ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ for Kids

KHON: … The Hawaiʻi State Art Museum is hosting a fun event for the community.

In conjunction with local non-profits and community-minded businesses, the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum will have keiki activities, art workshops, live performances and drag queen story time.

Also joining the fun will be Mark Kanemura.

Kanemura penned the acclaimed book “I am a Rainbow” which celebrates the diversity that is humanity and the morality of inclusion (is gay).  The book is illustrated by Richard Merritt.

Kanemura’s own life and experiences inspired the book which explores his love of entertaining and being in the spotlight.

As more and more laws seek to target children, keiki who do not fall into the Euro-centric cis gendered model of self-perception and expression end up experiencing difficulties in accessing both physical and mental healthcare.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

These attacks on kieki (by homosexual child molesters?  nope …) led the Hawaiʻi Department of Health to create the LGBTQ Safe Spaces program to ensure that Hawaiʻi keiki have support….

(The kiddies will be able to meet up with older homosexuals thanks to DoH.  What will happen next?  Think.  Think… Think ….)

The DOH published research on how 2SLGBTQ+ (huh?) keiki interact with their social, economic, race, political and religious contexts.

The event is free to the public and takes place on Saturday, June 24 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Art located at 250 S. Hotel Street….

Meanwhile: Native Hawaiian gender-fluidity showcased in Las Vegas drag show

read …  ‘I am a rainbow’ celebrates diversity, inclusion

Residents in Kauai pushing for the state to lower their rent as they can no longer afford the price increase

KITV: … Since 2019, residents have been working to convince the state to lower their rent so it can be affordable again. This came after rent increased after the 10-year affordable housing plan ended.

Residents say the owner of the apartments plans to sell the 82-unit complex to a private developer. They're asking the state to purchase and convert all units to affordable housing for the next 60 years.

Residents say this is an opportunity for Hawaii to prevent further evictions and provide affordable housing for hundreds of residents in Kauai.

Many residents living in the apartments are on fixed income and cannot afford the higher rent. Rent has increased from 1800 to 2900 dollars and many residents have been evicted as they can no longer afford the higher rent….

read … Residents in Kauai pushing for the state to lower their rent as they can no longer afford the price increase

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