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Monday, October 2, 2023
October 2, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:08 PM :: 1181 Views

New Shelter Built to Keep Lahaina Homeless out of Burn Zone

LahainaFires: 600 families put out of Hotels

Lahaina fires prompt questions about state water policy

BLNR Member: Criticism of Official who Withheld Water for Firefighting is ‘Racist’

EH: … “The situation on Maui has been heavy and I want to mahalo you and all the staff for the work you’re doing. … I did just want to say that I’m really deeply concerned with how Kaleo Manuel is being treated, in the media in particular, and some of the very nasty – I would say racist, in some cases, anti-Hawaiian – articles that have been written about him.

“I don’t know him personally, but from everything I know about him, he is a kind, good human and an upstanding public servant. I know that the state has the investigation it needs to conduct, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing more about that.

“But I did just want to say mahalo to him for his service and the work he has done for the state. I find some of the discussion around the impossible situation that he and many public servants were put in over the past two weeks – the discussion of that has really been disturbing.” --Aimee Barnes, BLNR member….

OHA: State-Aided Disaster Capitalism? - Ka Wai Ola

read … Land Board Member’s Comments on Treatment of Kaleo Manuel

Families are faced with hard decision to leave Lahaina or stay

SA: … The Chessons, like so many Lahaina families in the fire’s aftermath, are in short supply of nearly everything except hard decisions. Amid the overwhelming vastness of uncertainty, one of the most important choices to make is, “Do I stay or go?”

One aspect of staying is the difficulty of trying to heal while facing trauma that is still active nearly two months after the incident. Another is dealing with an expensive housing market made tighter by the fire, and a rebuilding process that could take years. Thousands have filed unemployment claims on Maui since the Lahaina wildfires, so the decision is often about replacing lost jobs or getting full hours….

Some Maui residents are opting to leave these challenges. While some will return as the Chessons hope to do, others will never come back as the fire potentially fuels a cycle that was potentially in play before the devastation.

Paul Brewbaker, principal of TZ Economics, said that even before the Lahaina wildfires, “Population on Maui was not growing as fast as it was a decade ago” and that it has been decelerating coming out of COVID-19 shock.

Brewbaker said the state’s newly posted 2020-2022 estimates show Maui’s population rising only slightly from 200,712 in 2020 to 203,792 in 2021 to 206,315 in 2022, as of July 1 of each year.

“That’s a deceleration from 1.5% growth in 2021 from 2020 (partly boosted by the vagabond worker phenomenon) to 1.2% growth in 2022,” he said….

Brewbaker said, “Some upfront losses — victims fleeing because it’s just easier to pick up and start life over somewhere else — are to be expected. They happened on Kauai after Hurricane Iniki and are quite common after hurricanes and massive fires, from which rebuilding can take years. I think Maui’s structural impediments to economic development are much more deterministic, the throttling thing, but the legacy of the wildfire could be to precipitate a larger population loss than might already have been forthcoming.”

Maui’s struggling economy is among the top reasons that Makaio Martin, 35, is moving to Olympia, Wash., on Sunday with his wife, Joanna Martin, and three kids — ages 3, 11, 13.

Martin said they plan to live in Olympia with his wife’s sister and his brother-in-law. He said the couple decided to move the family after their home in Lahaina where they lived with eight family members was destroyed. Martin also lost his handyman business in the fire.

“Instead of trying to restart here, which is one of the highest-cost places to live, we are moving to Washington to start a new life. It’s a little cheaper there rent-wise, and hopefully we can make something out of nothing,” he said.

It’s not the first time that Martin, who is part Hawaiian, has moved because of lack of jobs. He relocated to Maui from Hilo at 17 to find greater work opportunities. Martin said moving this time is harder because he feels pushed out of Hawaii and disenfranchised by the government’s disaster response….

read … Families are faced with hard decision to leave Lahaina or stay

Charter School Quickly Sets up Lahaina Campus

CB: … When Rita McClintock heard about the DOE’s waitlist, she enrolled her daughter in Hawaii Technology Academy, a charter school offering hybrid and distance learning options to students across the state. Within a month of the fires, HTA opened a new campus in Lahaina, enrolling over 115 students in kindergarten to eighth grade who attend classes at the school two to three times a week.

Once again, families’ demand exceeded available space: interim executive director Matt Zitello said HTA’s waitlist quickly filled to 300 students, forcing the school to close its applications in early September. Some of the families at the Lahaina campus sought out HTA after unsuccessful efforts to enter the DOE’s distance learning program, Zitello said.

“A few families had said, ‘Oh, I’m on a waitlist here, I’m on a waitlist there,’” Zitello said. “They’re dismayed by the fact that they didn’t get into us.” …

read … Some Lahaina Families Are Torn Between Distance Learning And Schools

Next stage of the Miske case–Motions to suppress evidence

CB: … My latest update on the case of Mike Miske, former owner of Kamaaina Termite, M Nightclub, and other local businesses, was published by Civil Beat this morning (“Mike Miske’s Attorneys Go On Attack Over FBI Search Warrants/Federal prosecutors said that evidence gathered from Miske’s boat Painkiller won’t be presented at trial“).

Short version: Miske’s attorneys are asking for significant evidence to be thrown out because they claim the search warrants the led to the evidence were illegal. Five motions were filed, and five responses were submitted by prosecutors. Far more issues were raised than I could possibly explain in a single story, but I looked at several examples.

Two things of note. First, in reply to one of Miske’s motions, prosecutors disclosed they will not use any forensic evidence collected in the 2017 search of Miske’s 37′ Boston Whaler, “Painkiller.” Important, because one theory of the case is that the boat was used to dispose of Jonathan Fraser’s body at sea. But the search was likely something of a long shot, as it came a little more than a year after Fraser had disappeared.

And, second, none of the remaining co-defendants–Dae Han Moon, Jarrin Young, Delia Fabro Miske, Jason Yokoyama, and John Stancil–sought to exclude evidence in their respective cases….

CB:  Mike Miske’s Attorneys Go On Attack Over FBI Search Warrants

read … Next stage of the Miske case–Motions to suppress evidence

Affordable Housing Fraud: Two Hilo attorneys under investigation by state office

HTH: … The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel is investigating two Hilo attorneys being prosecuted in federal court for allegedly receiving Hawaii County affordable housing credits and land conveyances worth at least $10.98 million, with no intention of developing affordable housing.

Paul Sulla Jr., 77, and Gary Zamber, 54 — along with 63-year-old Big Island businessman Rajesh Budhabhatti — are charged with nine counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and a single count of conspiracy. In addition, Sulla is charged with one count of money laundering. Three of the wire fraud charges for each defendant were added to the original charges in August 2022.

Trial for all defendants is set for Dec. 11 before U.S. District Judge Jill Otake in Honolulu….

ODC revealed the investigation in separate motions filed in mid-September seeking instruction by the Supreme Court about how to respond to a federal subpoena seeking testimony or documentary evidence in the cases against Sulla and Zamber….

Conspiracy and committing honest services wire fraud carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for each offense and a fine of $250,000, upon conviction. Money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, which prosecutors say is more than $1 million.

read … Two Hilo attorneys under investigation by state office - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Soft on Crime Crowd Finds Another Excuse to Block Oahu Jail Construction

CB: … The state executive now tasked with devising a plan to finance a $900 million jail on Oahu worked for years as a registered lobbyist for CoreCivic, which is a prison developer that lobbied for years to try to get the state to move forward with the Oahu jail project.

State Budget Director Luis Salaveria was registered as a lobbyist for CoreCivic until the end of last year, but said in an interview Wednesday he did not participate in the company’s push to get the state to issue a request for proposals to build the new jail.

But state Ethics Commission records show CoreCivic spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on payments to a half-dozen lobbyists in Hawaii in recent years, in part to press the state to move ahead with building a new Oahu jail.….

CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, specializes in financing and building such projects under a program it calls its “real estate-only model.” The company says it can speed construction and reduce construction costs for governments by 25%….

But Salaveria said that during his tenure with CoreCivic, “there’s never been any specific ask to the administration when I was lobbying for them to do some kind of P3 arrangement.”…

The jail project to replace the aging and overcrowded Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi has been (kept purposefully) stuck in the talking and planning stages for more than a decade (in order to keep lots and lots of criminals out on the streets), and a P3 deal has been contemplated for years.

It is expected to be one of the most expensive public works projects in state history, and the cost of the project is one reason it was delayed for so long.

The state has already spent nearly $10 million just planning the new jail, and corrections officials have been seeking another $25 million for planning, design and procurement to hire a developer to build the project….

At the time Ige estimated the jail would cost $150 million to $200 million to build. But earlier this year Johnson estimated (claimed) the cost today will be $900 million, and warned that cost will escalate by 8% to 12% each year the project is delayed (by him and his soft-on-crime buddies who all want criminals back out onto the streets)….

read … Former CoreCivic Lobbyist Is Helping To Plan A New Oahu Jail

Decade long water leak being fixed after millions of gallons wasted

KHON: … Officials estimate over one million gallons of water was being wasted each month at Dillingham Airfield, which is owned by the Army, and leased by the state.

Ownership and land management of Dillingham Airfield has been an issue itself for over a decade; and North Shore leaders have known about the leak, as well as the military, for over 11 years….

The Army said improved teamwork and technology helped move the repair forward.

“Through this week we’ll get [the repair] done, we’ll start to look at other areas to see if we need to address it but after this week we will finish up repairs needed for that line,” said state transportation director Ed Sniffen….

Sen. Awa said he hopes this improved partnership between the state and the army can be utilized to save an additional 11 million gallons of water at Kaneohe Marine Base.

Sen. Awa said in that situation, the state hasn’t approved a military request for repurposed water for their golf course but hopes the Mokuleia repair will show the two agencies can work together….

read … Decade long water leak being fixed after millions of gallons wasted

Lahaina Fire News:

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