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Wednesday, October 18, 2023
October 18, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:59 PM :: 1991 Views

Debris removal: Corps of Engineers Contractors Purposefully Damage 100s of Properties to Make More Money

Sheriff's Top Training Officer Pleads Guilty

New State Fund For Maui Fire Victims Is Designed as Lawsuit Settlement for KSBE, HECO, Maui County?

CB: … Who will contribute to the fund, Green said, is the subject of private negotiations that are still ongoing. Green said he has some of his top advisors working on the proposal, including Andy Winer, a well-known political operative and former chief of staff of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. 

A downed Hawaiian Electric power line has been blamed for sparking the Aug. 8 blaze and the utility company has been named in more than four dozen lawsuits. Hawaiian Electric has pointed out that the cause of the afternoon fire which raced through Lahaina has not been determined although an early morning fire in the area was caused by a downed power line owned by the company.

Major landowners around Lahaina whose properties were overgrown with vegetation that helped fuel the fire have also been targeted by victims and their attorneys, including the state of Hawaii and Kamehameha Schools, which oversees a multibillion-dollar trust fund for Native Hawaiians. 

Maui County, which made numerous missteps during the disaster, including failing to activate emergency warning sirens, has also been named in lawsuits. The county has in turn filed suit against Hawaiian Electric.  

Green said he hopes that every defendant, as well as other stakeholders in the community, will contribute to the fund. He declined to say whether Hawaiian Electric, Kamehameha Schools or Maui County have made any financial commitments as of yet.

“We’ve had early indications that all parties to the lawsuits at least want to discuss this with us,” he said. “I’d rather finalize those discussions before commenting, but there are some very good signs that we will have partners to make this work.” ….

When Green first floated the idea of creating a fire fund for victims during a Sept. 8 press conference, he said he was worried about “protecting our people from predatory business practices.” 

Among his concerns were land speculators seeking to purchase property from those who had lost their homes and mainland attorneys looking for clients to take on Hawaiian Electric and others they deemed responsible for the fires.

That worry has not gone away, he said this week…

Green said he’s not yet sure how much money will be in the fund, but that he anticipates that it will exceed $100 million…

SA: ‘Recovery and humanitarian’ fund for Maui fire victims’ families planned | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

SA: Andy Winer, the Washington, D.C.-based executive vice president of Strategies 360, will join the HNC board, Li said.  

CB: Housing Remains A Top Priority 2 Months After The Maui Fires

SA: VIDEO: Gov. Josh Green announces humanitarian fund for Lahaina families

read … New State Fund For Maui Fire Victims Is Taking Shape

Bribery shows up in Data: Some Honolulu Monster House Permits Sailed Through Despite Long Waits For Others

CB: … the two permit applications had a lot in common.

Submitted in 2019, both were set to become 2,400-square-foot single-family homes that needed electrical hookups, plumbing work and solar panels.

Each was estimated to cost about $400,000. And the properties were located just 3 miles apart, one in Kaimuki and one in Palolo.

A key difference was who submitted them to the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, known as DPP.

Structural Hawaii submitted the Palolo plans in January. Architect Bill Wong submitted the other in October. The former waited for DPP’s blessing to build for more than 10 months. Wong got the OK within seven days….

While DPP is notorious for having some of the slowest permitting times in the nation, the data shows a wide variation within that. Certain applicants’ projects have sailed through the process in days or weeks while others languish for months or even years. A small group of applicants has gotten their work approved in half the average time of their competition, according to the data….

(TRANSLATION: List of bribe-payers.)

Indeed, Wong has been among Honolulu’s speediest permit applicants for years, the data shows. The architect is now headed to prison for paying off DPP workers for years to the tune of over $100,000. Wong apparently had a long-running deal with former chief building inspector, Wayne Inouye, who is now serving a five-year prison sentence.

Kiyoshi Toi, another architect charged with trying to bribe the city, also has a record of relative speed, according to the data. For new builds involving electrical, plumbing and solar work, he got his projects OK’d in less than half the average time of similar projects submitted by others in the same time period, Civil Beat’s analysis shows.

Prosecutors say Toi, 89, was caught on camera last year trying to slip a “wad of cash” to a plans examiner under the guise of a handshake….

Meanwhile, there were other applicants in the last 10 years whose paperwork moved even faster…. (LINK TO LIST)

Another faster-moving applicant in the last 10 years was Xiang Yee, allegedly one of the most prolific monster home developers on the island. He was able to get approvals in less than half the average time for projects in one particular category, those involving building alterations, plumbing and electrical work, the data shows.

In 2019, the Honolulu auditor found that Yee was among a small group of planmakers responsible for the vast majority of monster home development on the island. He was also cited by DPP this year for an unstable construction site after a boulder burst through a woman’s Palolo home.

One of Yee’s projects transformed a plantation-style home off Kapahulu Avenue into a 4,000-square-foot complex with 11 bedrooms, six bathrooms and multiple entrances. It took DPP about two and a half months to approve the plans in 2015 – less than half the average time for that kind of project at the time….

read … Some Honolulu Building Permit Applicants Sailed Through Despite Long Waits For Most

How much of proposed water rate hike is driven by Red Hill?

SA: … Question: The Hono­lulu Board of Water Supply wants to gradually increase water rates 66% (compounded) by July 2028. In a newsletter detailing the proposed rate hikes, the BWS says that “our water supply is under unprecedented threat from the Red Hill fuel crisis.” Will the BWS seek reimbursement from the military for all the expensive work it has to do to protect Oahu’s water supply?

Answer: The BWS says it “will continue to actively pursue funding from the military and federal government” but so far has received no compensation from the Navy for the crisis, which has forced the BWS “to make large investments to replace 17.5 million gallons per day of potable (drinking) water. Many things are still undetermined, including whether or not BWS will be able to recover any of these additional costs from the U.S. Navy.”…

(CLUE: But they won’t reverse the rate hike.)

read … How much of proposed water rate hike is driven by Red Hill?

State Resorts To Absurd Excuses To Stonewall In Infamous Child Abuse Case

CB: … When we last left this very sad story, the state had refused to provide information about the Ariel Sellers case despite a federal law calling for public disclosure when child abuse results in a “fatality or near fatality.”

The reason? Even though 6-year-old Ariel had been missing from her Waimanalo home for almost two years at that time, her death was not official.

A judge declared her dead in July. But the Department of Human Services still would not provide the information. It said it had not yet received the declaration from the court.

So I took it upon myself to mount the many hurdles to obtaining a readily available public court document and emailed it to them.

Problem solved? Far from it.

Now DHS has another excuse – though the court had certified her death, it still has not officially declared that Ariel’s death was the result of abuse or neglect….

To understand the absurdity of the state’s position, let’s delve into the legal fine points.

To get grants from the federal government, states must create child welfare plans that address the confidentiality of records – and exceptions to that secrecy. The plan must include provisions that allow for “public disclosure of the findings or information about the case of child abuse or neglect which has resulted in a child fatality or near fatality.”

Hawaii, meanwhile, has its own administrative rule, put in place in 2004, addressing the same subject. It may have been the state’s implementation of the federal requirement.

It says that disclosure of child welfare records “shall be authorized” when the subject of the report has been charged with committing a crime “relating to the child abuse or neglect report.”

Another provision authorizes disclosure when “the child named in the report is missing, has suffered a near fatality, been critically injured, or has died.”…

why is DHS relying on its policy manual instead of the administrative rule, which carries more legal weight?…

read … State Resorts To Absurd Excuses To Stonewall In Infamous Child Abuse Case

Attorney General’s Legal Trickery gums up distribution of historic Hawaiian Homelands waitlist settlement

HNN: … Now the state Supreme Court may have to save the massive agreement.

After 24 years in court, Oct. 1 was a big day, when $285 million was to be released to more than 2,000 homelands beneficiaries and surviving descendants. That is now up in the air because one person, who may not even have been eligible for payment, filed a complaint.

In his letter to the judge overseeing the settlement, Rickey Rivera specifically said he was appealing his rejection for payment and not trying to overturn the settlement.

The $328 million settlement was decades in the making.

The state agreed to pay Native Hawaiians who were stuck on the waitlist for their costs to rent while waiting for a homestead. The checks were supposed to be in the mail by now.

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro heard from many who were expecting payment at last.

“They were just about to get there, you know, long, long, long awaited settlement awards, when all of a sudden finding out there’s some appeal going on,” Shimabukuro said.

“That it’s going to delay them for an indefinite amount of time is beyond frustrating for them, many of whom are elderly, and dying.” In her order confirming the appeal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals the judge estimated at least six months would be needed for the appeals to play out.

Judge Lisa Cataldo seemed to blame the state Attorney General for the delay, saying the AG could have agreed that Rivera was not seeking an appeal.

“The state’s position is intractable despite all of the facts,” Cataldo wrote….

She also sympathized with the beneficiaries.

“Their long-awaited receipt of their share of the settlement proceeds is again out of their hands and for now, out of their reach. It is a travesty.”…

But late Tuesday morning, the Hawaii Supreme Court offered a shortcut — agreeing to take the Rivera appeal on an emergency basis.

“So that will definitely speed things up because it’ll go straight to Supreme Court,” Shimabukuro said. “Once they issued their decision, then there’s no further appeal….  

CB: Homestead Leases For Native Hawaiians Held Up Pending Ruling On Potential Plaintiff

read … One complaint gums up distribution of historic Hawaiian Homelands waitlist settlement (hawaiinewsnow.com)

US negotiator signs new deal with strategic Marshall Islands

R: … The United States signed a new 20-year agreement on Monday on economic assistance to the Marshall Islands worth $2.3 billion to the strategic Pacific island nation, chief U.S. negotiator Joseph Yun told Reuters.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is one of three sprawling but sparsely populated nations that have U.S. ties governed by so-called Compacts of Free Association (COFAs), under which Washington is responsible for their defense and provides economic assistance, while gaining exclusive military access to strategic swathes of ocean.

After decades of relative neglect, the nations have found themselves at the center of a U.S. battle for influence with China in the Northern Pacific and the Biden administration agreed new deals with the two other states, Palau and Micronesia, earlier this year.

It had been haggling for months over details with the RMI, which had called on Washington to better address the legacy of nuclear testing there in the 1940s and 1950s.…

CB: US, Marshall Islands Renew COFA Treaty For Another 20 Years - Honolulu Civil Beat

SCMP:  US secures Marshall Islands military deal, keeps China at bay in strategically vital Pacific region | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

read … US negotiator signs new deal with strategic Marshall Islands

Another two defendants expected to flip against Miske

ILind: … I received a tip yesterday that a new “information” had been filed on in federal court on Monday charging Dae Han Moon, one of the remaining co-defendants in the racketeering case against former Kamaaina Termite owner Mike Miske, with two federal felonies.

The document is a brief three pages long, but it says a lot….

I expect that Moon will have a lot of useful information to share with prosecutors….

ILind: Another Miske-case plea bargain announced this week -- "Jarrin Young–is also making a deal."

CB: Miske Co-Defendant Charged With 2 Felony Offenses Ahead Of Likely Plea Deal - Honolulu Civil Beat

read … Another defendant expected to flip against Miske

Violent crime may be down overall but homicides are up according to FBI data

KHON: … But while statistics show a dip in violent crime as a whole in 2022, there have been a number of murders and attempted murders in West Oahu, including a shooting at Waianae Boat Harbor in early September.

And taking a closer look at the statistics, the number of homicides actually went up statewide from 23 to 28 in 2022.

And according to the HPD’s website there have been 17 homicides so far in 2023 on Oahu alone….

FBI: FBI Releases 2022 Crime in the Nation Statistics — FBI

read … Violent crime may be down overall but homicides are up according to FBI data

Hawaii Hydrogen Future -- Billion Dollar greenwashing scam

IM: … The Hawaii State Legislature passed SB2957 SD2 HD2 CD1 that became Act 240 in 2006 and is codified at Hawaii Revised Statutes §196-10. “There is established, within the department of business, economic development, and tourism, a Hawaii renewable hydrogen program to manage the State's transition to a renewable hydrogen economy.”

Life of the Land testified to the split personality of the legislation. While promoting the development of a “renewable hydrogen economy”, legislators omitted the word renewable throughout the bill. This was intentional. Legislators wanted industry to be able to generate hydrogen from fossil fuel…

Many Hawaii renewable energy advocates asserted that if the federal government was willing to give a billion dollars to Hawaii for a hydrogen hub, we should accept the money, even if the only thing it did was infused the state coffers with federal funds….

read … Another Setback for Hawai`i Hydrogen Future | Ililani Media

Honolulu planners consider extension for landfill site selection

SA: … The Honolulu Planning Commission meets today to consider the city’s two-year extension to find an alternate site for the 34-year-old Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei.

Those plans involve a formal request from the city Department of Environmental Services — first submitted in December — to amend a previous state- issued, special-use permit granted in 2019.

The request would extend the prior deadline of Dec. 31, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2024, to identify a new landfill site…. 

CB: Honolulu Eyes Military Land As Potential Site For New Landfill

read … Honolulu planners consider extension for landfill site selection

Clean Waste ‘Disneyland’ ‘Promises the Moon’--and Hawaii County Council Dumb Enough to believe it

HTH: … Ewall questioned the council’s support of a company called Yummet, which has announced plans to build a facility on the Big Island that can use proprietary technology to convert various waste items — ranging from plastic, green waste, glass and even greenhouse gases — into clean air, water, hydrogen, carbon-negative concrete and biochar, which can be used to trap carbon and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.

The council passed a nonbinding resolution in March urging the county to develop a facility on the island that can convert “all municipal solid waste” into such clean items by 2026. Although the resolution did not mention Yummet by name, several council members said at the time that they had heard presentations by Yummet’s CEO Brittany Zimmerman touting Yummet’s process, and county Research and Development Director Doug Adams was touring a Yummet pilot site in Minnesota at the time of the resolution’s introduction.

Ewall called the Yummet proposal “a Disneyland of experimental types of technologies,” but added that he has seen plenty of other clean energy businesses promise the moon and fail to deliver.

“I’ve seen numerous companies that fit this description, just with different twists … for 20 years now, across the country,” Ewall said. “We see so many cases where they’re not being honest with communities. … There are just a lot of myths about what you can do with this.”

read … Expert cautions County Council about its power and waste preferences

Lahaina Fire News:

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