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Sunday, October 15, 2023
October 15, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:00 PM :: 2321 Views

Tourists, Keep Out!

Is it really a good idea to build a new Aloha Stadium?

West Maui tourism decision should be individual choice

Crony Capitalism: Jones Act in the News

Three Vacancies on First Circuit Court

Lahaina Fires: 'Cultural awareness' at forefront of Corps of Engineers Mission

A simple way to improve Hawaii healthcare

Feds on the Job: Child Molesting Drug Dealer gets 10.5 years

Fire? Red Tape Delays Invasive Grass Control for 15 Years--And Counting

CB: … government bureaucracy and inadequate research facilities are now blamed for delaying potentially significant relief to industries like macadamia and coffee and possibly even providing a “silver bullet” in the battle against the invasive grasses that fueled the deadly wildfires on Maui….

Ramadan’s most recently published article is on the macadamia felted coccid, a microscopic pest to Hawaii’s lucrative macadamia nut industry

His research shows it will be successful but its release has been a decade in waiting, as regulations and permitting hold up the process. 

 “I do not complain much,” Ramadan said. “But this … this is a really long time.”

When the wiliwili tree was facing extinction in the summer of 2005, Ramadan ventured to Tanzania to find solutions. Biologists who were colleagues at UH traveled with him across southern Africa, together finding 30 potential solutions by the end of 2006. 

Four years later, a wasp was released in Hawaii as a biological control agent.

It was a rapid response especially considering the bureaucratic steps involved in the process, according to UH entomology professor Mark Wright, who worked with Ramadan on the project.

“Sometimes it can take 20 years to get something like that to happen,” Wright said. …

The process of identifying and locating potential biocontrol agents might take a few months or a year, but the permitting process can take far longer because delays are possible at every step on the federal or state level….

The macadamia nut industry awaiting final sign-off to release a miniscule Australian wasp to kill off the felted coccid is another example.  …

Ramadan believes he found the potential answer in Africa in 2008, where the grass comes from and does not blanket the landscape as it does in Hawaii.

There’s an unnamed insect that eats the seeds of fountain grass and a “smut fungus” that grows on them in their natural range.

“A project like this is not going to come in one or two years. It’s going to take 10 or maybe more,” Ramadan said. “There are other things we want to protect too: Kukiyu grass is from the same genus.”

Ramadan, despite being an entomologist, believes the fungus could be the state’s greatest defense against the invasive grass.

But it does not have a facility to do the research, so may have to outsource the work to France.

“Pathogens tend to be very specific and some of them are very good at biological control,” Ramadan said. “I believe that this could be the silver bullet for fountain grass.”…

C3: Invasive Species: An Environmental Threat Multiplier

read … This State Employee Is Scouring The Earth For Solutions To Combat Hawaii's Invasive Species

Hawaiian Electric’s wildfire mitigation plan: slow slower slowest

SA: … “It’s 20 years worth of work we’re going to need to do to address these risks, all of these risks in all of the various locations,”…

read … Hawaiian Electric’s wildfire mitigation plan under scrutiny

Green Makes Social Media Latest Excuse for Hawaii Government Failures

CB: … “It’s Groundhog Day again?!! Why does Hawaii’s political system keep making the same decisions?” …

Housing has been a crisis for decades. Regulatory hurdles are formidable. Projects take forever to complete. Government is not innovative. The political structure is beholden to special interests….

Asked about how he felt about social media, Green was frank: He thinks it’s “incredibly destructive,” he wishes it would be a more positive platform, and he shared firsthand experiences:

“The moment I suggested that climate change was a part of this crisis and why Lahaina ultimately suffered destruction at the hands of the fire, the number of death threats, the number of the worst kind of comments that came from all across the globe was astounding,” he said. “Comments that suggested not only I’d be assassinated, but my children would be killed. And to see that on social media is pretty unbelievable because I’m just trying to have dialogue with people and saying what I believe.”

Green then shared “a little something extra” with the HEA audience: “Social media ultimately took out Nani Medeiros. That really was what happened to her. And she’s a darn good person. And that hurt to see that happen, to see social media take apart a person like that.”

What happened with Medeiros, his chief housing officer who quit her post last month following blowback over the scope and powers granted through the emergency proclamation, was in his view the fault of social media.

It is, the governor said, “to a large degree why I backed away from anything that was controversial in the housing proclamation. To a large degree. It’s why I was happy to see the decision on Kaleo Manuel, who I respect a great deal, reversed because it was creating a conflict that then got out of control. Things get out of control nowadays because of social media.”

read … Can Josh Green Restore Hawaii’s Broken Trust?

Geothermal Schemes target DHHL: Mililani Trask, and convicted felon Roberta Cabral back at it again 

HTH: … The group, informally known as the “Geothermal PIG,” includes then-Oahu Commissioner Russell Kaupu as chairman and Hawaii Island Commissioners Makai Freitas and Michael Kaleikini, who also is senior director of Puna Geothermal Venture. Kaupu resigned from the Hawaiian Homes Commission in June to accept a DHHL staff position.

Doug Adams, Hawaii County director of Research and Development, told commissioners Monday that Mayor Mitch Roth is on board with geothermal development on DHHL land and encouraged the commission to “support the (PIG’s) work.”

“We’re a county. We don’t own energy, but we are certainly paying attention to the kind of energy that is being generated and then being used for grid and transportation purposes,” Adams said. “… For me, this is the … revenue piece for Hawaiian Home Lands and the department and beneficiaries that is associated with doing things the right way.”

The group, which has met four times, has consulted with University of Hawaii at Hilo researcher Don Thomas, director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, and UH-Manoa researcher Nicole Lautze, director of the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center. The pair presented a summary of their findings of a previous study they conducted.

Others consulted by the Geothermal PIG include Robbie Cabral, Malama Solomon and Mililani Trask, all principals of Waika Consulting, and Nona Taute, of University of Auckland Engineering in New Zealand.

Taute’s presentation included the state of geothermal development in New Zealand and the perspective of the native Maori people on that development. Cabral, Solomon and Trask presented information on geothermal development work they’ve done in New Zealand and hope to do in Hawaii.

According to Trask, who actively opposed geothermal development in Hawaii in the 1970s and ’80s, DHHL lands are suitable and acceptable for geothermal development because native people own the resource and will receive a fair share of the economic return.

The group reportedly came to the consensus that DHHL shouldn’t try to develop its geothermal resources on its own, but should partner with a private enterprise that has both industry knowledge and experience and the ability to finance the venture.

The report’s conclusion was that DHHL’s contribution should be limited to making its land available, lending political support for the project — which includes finding government funding in the form of grants and loans — and providing cultural competency, native community relations and beneficiary consultation.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal has turned out to be controversial.

“The devil is in the details,” Patrick Kahawaiolaa, homesteader and Keaukaha Community Association president told the Tribune-Herald on Tuesday. “I’m not skeptical of Dr. Thomas’ research. I’m skeptical of the people who now want to be the players in it,” referring to Trask, Cabral and Solomon….

read … Geothermal sites identified: Report favors energy development on DHHL property - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Labor Department: “Time’s up”

Borreca: … The COVID pandemic came crashing down on Hawaii: workers who were either sick or ordered not to go to work.

But, watch how the state helped the crisis, not the workers.

No work translated into unemployment claims and for Hawaii that soon translated into a new unemployment crisis as the inflexible and largely unprepared state bureaucracy could not process the unemployment claims.

This happened first with the COVID crisis, and then again, recently with the tragic Maui wildfires….

this year, the state is now facing what Star-Advertiser reporter Dan Nakaso said is “widespread confusion and uncertainty,” as Maui wildfire victims worry if they will be denied weekly unemployment payments if they’re too traumatized to work.

Again the state bureaucracy is at the forefront….

Local 5 … has 300 members who lived in Lahaina, and about 150 “have lost everything.”

According to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, “There have been 10,448 new claims for unemployment in Maui County … about 9,900 more than we would expect based on the preceding four weeks.” This represents more than 11% of all employment in Maui County….

Butay said of 2,200 applications for federal disaster unemployment assistance, 500 have been approved. There is also a backlog of applications for regular unemployment — with 15,161 filed since the fires with 8,731 currently being paid, according to the television news report.

The state has money to buy the computers needed to address the problem. History shows how for years the Labor Department has had problems — and apparently a high tolerance for failing to meet the challenge.

The question is whether the state is able to tell the Labor Department: “Time’s up.”…

read … State backlog of Maui jobless claims like COVID era

On Oahu’s North Shore, big fines are proposed for illegal erosion control measures

HNN: … Dunphy has been fined by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources several times for his efforts to keep his house from being claimed by the waves. But his next-door neighbor could face a $937,000 fine for several alleged unauthorized erosion control measures, including using a conveyor belt to mine sand from the beach to fill sandbags.

“What we allege are violations of conservation district rules, what we allege are impacts on the natural environment and cultural resources, and for what we allege are unauthorized encroachments and occupancy of state lands,” Michael Cain, administrator of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands told the Board of Land and Natural Resources at its meeting Friday….

Board members voted to allow Freeman to state his case at next months’ meeting.

Cain told the board that his office is trying to explore other options, such as negotiating settlements and pursuing legislative measures. But the anxiety and frustration are continuing to rise, along with the swells.

“They’re not letting us address the problem to save our homes and address the issue,” Dunphy said….

read … On Oahu’s North Shore, big fines are proposed for illegal erosion control measures

Hawaii's Lawmakers to Reconvene in January

CB: … the most significant proposed reforms were rejected. And the tragedy in West Maui might have been averted if the Legislature hadn’t been so dysfunctional for so long….

So far, most signs point to another session of closed-door maneuverings, draconian rulings by committee chairs and a rush to sine die in which a lot of good legislation gets killed and a lot of spending decisions are made after the final floor votes….

read … We’ll Keep The Heat On Hawaii's Lawmakers When They Reconvene

UH Manoa: Usual Gaggle of Jew-Haters do the usual stuff

HNN: … “Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine” hosts events with Palestinian guest speakers who offer context to (excuses for whatever) the complex conflict (Muslims are doing this time)….

read … UH Manoa: Usual Gaggle of Jew Haters do the usual stuff

COVID News: With no Tourists to rob, Meth-heads stole Local Cars

HTH: … the worst year for auto thefts in the last five years was in 2021, when 1,620 vehicles were reported stolen on the Big Island, a whopping 27.6% uptick from the previous year and 36.1% more vehicles than were stolen in 2019, just two years earlier….

“Some of them, we never find, but a lot of them we’ll see dumped somewhere. And you’d be surprised the minor things they steal off the vehicle.”

The two districts contributing the most to the severe spike were South Hilo, where vehicle theft reports climbed from 381 in 2020 to 545 in 2021, and Puna, where the numbers increased from 375 to 526. That’s a 43% hike for South Hilo and just above 40% for Puna.

And in Ka‘u, which has a smaller population and fewer auto theft reports, the upward trend was even steeper — 144 reported car thefts in 2021, a 54.8% surge.

In Kona, however, where much of the reported crime is directed toward visitors, auto thefts went down — with 300 thefts in 2021, 30 fewer than the previous year, a 9% drop. Despite the reduction, Kona still had the third-highest car theft reports islandwide in 2021….

Auto theft has long been a bane of Hawaii car owners. According to the data analytics website Statista.com, in 2020, Hawaii had 379.8 reported auto thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, sixth among states — seventh, when Washington, D.C., is included — and well above the national average of 246 auto thefts per 100,000 inhabitants….

read … Big Island saw surge of vehicle thefts during the pandemic - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Lahaina Fire News:

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