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Sunday, December 10, 2023
December 10, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:59 PM :: 2930 Views

Anti-Semitic Hawaii ‘Peace’ Activists tied to Hamas, Iran, China

The Two Gorillas Still Menace the Budget

Why Hawaii costs so much — and what we can do about it

More craziness caused by 1886 maritime law

Support Victims of Condo Board Retaliation

Empowering Food Entrepreneurs: Education, Policy Changes Needed

The easiest way to increase tax revenues

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 9, 2023

18 Years and Still not fixed: Reflecting Pool is DAGS Aloha Stadium Preview

Shapiro: … The only thing reflected by the reflecting pools around our state Capitol is the futlessness of our local government that keeps us from becoming a better Hawaii.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser recently reported that leaks from the pools during recent rain drenched the Capitol’s chamber level, where toil the senators and representatives responsible for funding such basic maintenance.

As reporter Andrew Gomes described it, the basement near the Senate chamber sounded like a rainforest — with tarps as canopy rather than trees — as industrial vacuums sucked water….

Most basically, it means state leaders couldn’t even fix a hole that’s dumping foul water on their own heads, as our beautiful Capitol seems forever surrounded by construction barriers.

More troubling, the long futility in resolving this involves some of the same actors leading a bigger project with potential for much bigger problems: the Aloha Stadium redevelopment.

The Department of Accounting and General Serv­ices has sought money since 2005 to fix the pools, which in addition to leaking have reeked from out- of-control algae and fish….

In 2005 the estimated repair cost was $5 million. By 2015 it was $10 million. When the Legislature finally appropriated money to get the waterproofing job done, it was $30 million this year after $9.8 million two years ago.

DAGS hopes to complete waterproofing on the Senate-side pool this month and on the House-side pool next year…

SA: Capitol pool repairs on track for completion | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

SA: Column: Hāli‘a ke aloha no ke Aloha Stadium | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … State senators and reps soak in their own futility

More Housing?  Gov. Green’s 1st year ends with less

SA: … Green’s signature plan is to create housing: stable shelter for those without homes, and tens of thousands of units affordable to residents who earn a median income — including the state’s teachers, first responders and health care workers — and low-income households.

To address homelessness, Green has built on a concept first developed during the pandemic: “kauhale,” a quickly set-up collection of tiny homes or dormitory-style units with communal space. An emergency proclamation in January allowed for construction of up to 12 kauhale villages statewide. But only one has received residents so far…

More powerful opposition greeted Green’s use of emergency powers to “fast track” housing development. The governor signed an emergency proclamation for this on July 17 — just weeks before the West Maui fires — suspending numerous state laws and appointing a lead housing officer empowered to greenlight actions, advised by a Build Beyond Barriers working group…..

Pushback arose quickly, with nonprofit legal group Earthjustice filing suit against the proclamation, claiming the move benefited “real estate developers at the expense of the public interest.” Others joined, including the Sierra Club and Native Hawaiians, warning that the panel could fast-track housing developments on environmentally fragile or culturally significant properties.

Green, caught by surprise, proved adaptable; he modified the proclamation twice, and on Oct. 24 reinstated County Council approval of most projects, Sunshine Law requirements, indigenous burial protections and environmental review. He remains vexed by the opposition — but there remains palpable frustration and distrust after promises and expectations for significant affordable housing in Kakaako and on land above Kaanapali, Maui, for two major examples, were not met….

Recovery efforts on West Maui also promise to affect statewide dynamics. With thousands of fire-displaced residents still in hotel rooms, Maui has been forced to confront a mean reality: Its supply of lucrative short-term rental properties exceeds that of long-term rentals for residents, and Green is avidly pushing state and county programs to shift the balance….

SA: Gov. Green marks challenging first year in office, planning ahead to 2024

read … Editorial: Gov. Green’s 1st year full of unexpected challenges

Thousands are leaving Hawaii. 7th Year in a Row.

SFG: … For the seventh consecutive year, Hawaii’s population has steadily declined, according to the United States Census Bureau’s state population estimates, as residents leave the Islands by the thousands. 

From July 2021 to July 2022, the state’s population dropped by 0.5%, from 1.447 million to 1.440 million. Last year, Hawaii ranked fifth in the nation for the biggest decline by total population, behind West Virginia at -0.6%, Louisiana and Illinois at -0.8%, and New York at -0.9%

The high cost of living and lack of affordable housing are two reasons residents cited for moving, along with more job opportunities and higher pay. “It’s easier to make a living for yourself here on the mainland than back home in Hawaii,” Josiah Factora, a Hilo resident who moved to Washington state, told Ka Wai Ola.

The downward trend has also affected the Native Hawaiian community. A 2020 Census Bureau analysis published in September found for the first time there were more Native Hawaiians living in the continental U.S. than in Hawaii.

A Census Bureau report released in October also analyzed where Hawaii residents are moving to and where people moving to Hawaii are coming from. It found that more than 67,257 people left Hawaii between 2021 and 2022, while 56,209 moved to Hawaii from other states.

Of the Hawaii residents who left in 2022, 10,747 moved to California, the top state of choice. In return, 10,562 Californians moved to Hawaii, according to the Census Bureau. …

read … Thousands are leaving Hawaii. California is where they’re moving. (sfgate.com)

Will Maui wildfire litigation overwhelm courts?

SA: … The number of fire loss lawsuits filed in state court have topped 70 but is expected to soar into the hundreds — and perhaps beyond 1,000 — to easily become the biggest incidence ever of mass tort litigation in Hawaii.

“I can’t think of anything else that comes close in scope,” said Ilana Waxman, a Maui-born attorney representing one person who lost their home and art studio business on Front Street.

The anticipated surge in cases has the potential to overwhelm 2nd Circuit Court for Maui County, where four judges handle the workload that included 380 civil cases filed in all of 2022 along with criminal cases.

Yet expectations are steadfast that a massive wave of additional Maui fire lawsuits won’t jam up the state judiciary system because several relatively efficient paths exist for the litigation to flow and reach resolution.

It’s hard to predict how the big picture of Maui fire litigation shapes up and shakes out, though it’s possible that the vast majority of cases get settled after as little as one case gets decided at trial….

It’s also possible that all the cases get shunted into a court-authorized mediation program.

Most cases might alternately wind up getting resolved or partially resolved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court if one defendant named in all or nearly all of the cases, Hawaiian Electric, seeks bankruptcy protection, a move that would stay civil lawsuits against the company.

A couple of other factors that could affect the scope of all the litigation by reducing the number of individual lawsuits over the fires include a couple of class-­action cases pending in federal court that seek to collectively represent many people who suffered losses, and a victims fund being set up to pay damages in lieu of litigation.

The victims fund so far involves the state, Maui County, Hawaiian Electric and Kamehameha Schools collectively committing around $150 million, including up to $75 million from the utility company. Gov. Josh Green said at least $1 million will be available to families of each person who was killed in the fire, if they agree to forego litigation, and that the fund can hopefully be expanded.

read …  Maui wildfire litigation expected to surge

Vacancies In State Child Welfare Services Jobs Reach Their Highest Point In Over A Decade

CB: … The vacancy rate for caseworkers in the state Child Welfare Services branch reached an alarming 40% earlier this year, which was almost twice as high as the rate just a year earlier, according to a report on CWS filed with the federal government.

The 2024 Annual Progress and Services Report prepared by the state Department of Human Services found CWS had an overall staff vacancy rate of 32% in February. But the critically important and sometimes brutally stressful caseworker positions have proved to be particularly difficult to fill.

The same report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted the average caseworker caseload statewide was 39 as of March 1, which was a 50% increase over a year earlier.

“Average caseloads were especially high on Maui and both sides of Hawaii Island, due to high caseworker vacancy rates,” according to the report. The report notes “there is no policy” that limits the number of cases a single caseworker can carry….

Data compiled for the Hawaii report show CWS accepted 2,921 reports of abuse or neglect for investigation in the year that ended June 30, 2022, and confirmed 788 of those reports.

The system had 177 authorized caseworker positions as of March 1 to cope with that workload, but 70 of those positions were vacant….

Joe O’Connell, a longtime Hilo foster parent, said a teenager placed with his family earlier this month arrived without even basic paperwork to let O’Connell know about his history or medical needs.

Foster children normally arrive with packets that include some basic information about them, but “we didn’t get anything,” O’Connell said. “Even his birthdate was left blank on the form.”

The youth was being moved from another foster home, but he arrived at O’Connell’s house with just the clothes he was wearing. He also arrived without his medications, and O’Connell said he did not learn the youth was supposed to be on six different meds until days later.

The boy’s clothes were delivered in garbage bags days after he arrived, and CWS also neglected to tell O’Connell the youth had spent time at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility on Oahu for an alleged assault….

The data in the APSR report shows that of the 788 confirmed reports of abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2021, 71% involved “threatened harm,” while the department concluded there was actual physical neglect in 13.8% of the cases.

Another 6.8% of the cases involved confirmed physical abuse, and there was confirmed sexual abuse in 6.3% of the cases, according to CWS.

Four children involved in active CWS cases died of maltreatment that year, according to the CWS data….

read … Vacancies In State Child Welfare Services Jobs Reach Their Highest Point In Over A Decade

Miske: The evidence keeps piling up

ILind: … It has long been apparent that the case against former Honolulu business owner Michael J. Miske Jr and co-defendants is grounded in a vast amount of evidence gathered in the course of four federal investigations. It is believed to be the most complex case, in terms of the sheer amount of evidence, of any case criminal ever heard in this district.

And the evidence continues to accrue….

And in a court filing on Friday, Miske’s attorneys disclosed that the evidence keeps coming.

In the past 4 months alone, the government has produced Productions 30-35, totaling 118.5 gigabytes of discovery, comprised of 312,976 files in 3,494 folders.

..Their legal memo says 60 to 100 people listed as potential witnesses in the case testified before the federal grand jury in the case, and transcripts of their statements before the grand jury are yet to be released.

Nine of Miske’s co-defendants have already pleaded guilty, leaving only four defendants to face trial—Miske, John Stancil (Miske’s half-brother), Delia Fabro-Miske (the wife of Miske’s late son, Caleb), and Jason Yokoyama (Miske’s former business partner in the M Nightclub and corporate front man)…

read … And the evidence keeps piling up | i L i n d

Email Threat To Jewish Temples In Hawaii Heightens Security Fears

SA: … “It was unfortunately some threatening emails, but it does not appear that it was anything more than that,” she said. “It unfortunately shows that Hawaii is not immune from the rise in antisemitism that we have seen around the world. But we are also very confident that it does not reflect the views of our larger community.”

She noted it was unclear who sent the email and if it may have been from outside Hawaii.

The email came through on the same day that a swastika and Star of David were spray painted on Leonard’s Bakery’s flagship store on Kapahulu Bakery in Waikiki. Somebody was spraying bleach and trying to power wash it off the building. The bakery’s manager couldn’t be reached for comment.

Zysman said the synagogue has already increased security over the past several years ….

read … Email Threat To Jewish Temples In Hawaii Heightens Security Fears

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