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Sunday, February 4, 2024
February 4, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:43 PM :: 1524 Views

What Were They Thinking?

Maui 'Renewable' Power Plant--Surprise, its Diesel!

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 3, 2024

Kauai: Tourism Industry Scores Another Big Win Over Agriculture 

SB3350: Outlaw Supreme Court Justice Vlad Devens’ Mafia Trick

CB: … OK, so Senate Bill 3350 is not actually named for the new Hawaii Supreme Court associate justice.

The legislation from state Sen. Chris Lee would require that justices, judges and judicial nominees file “the same financial disclosures that are required of other state officials.”

Lee’s bill is intended to help prevent bribery and corruption. But The Blog wonders whether, had this been state law when Devens applied to join the high court in late 2022, he would have had to disclose his directorship with Be Change Now — the Pacific Resource Partnership’s political action committee.

Of course, Devens could have simply chosen to skip such a disclosure, as he appears to have in his Judicial Selection Commission application and the resume submitted to the Senate that confirmed him….

Background: Suuurrrprise! New Supreme Court Justice Devens Concealed his role as Carpenters Union Operative

Background: Mafia News: Andy Winer Law Partner ‘a lock’ on Supreme Court Nomination

Background: Mafia News: Miske’s Lawyer Takes over Law Practice of New Supreme Court Justice

read … The Sunshine Blog: Sunshine In The Senate, Shakas In The House

HB1537 DoE Money Grab: Create New Property Tax, Rob Counties

Shapiro: …You’d think the Legislature has enough new bad ideas that they don’t need to recycle oldies.

But that’s what lawmakers appear to be doing with House Bill 1537, a revival of a failed 2018 effort led by the teachers union to have the state pay teachers more by hijacking a share of property taxes, now assigned by the state Constitution exclusively to counties….

By homing in on the property tax, lawmakers get the political gain of pleasing school unions while putting the fiscal pain on the counties, which have no other independent income source….

The gambit fails to weigh other priorities for limited tax dollars and severely constrains the counties’ ability to use the property tax — their main funding source — for their own pressing needs....

HB1537: Text, Status 

SB2056: Text, Status

read … David Shapiro: Old state tax boondoggle gets new legislative life

Bill to raise Hawaii DOE superintendent pay cap sparks controversy

HNN: … More raises could be coming for some key Hawaii government officials.

It comes just seven months after the Honolulu City Council’s controversial 64% pay raise.

Hawaii DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi currently makes $240,000 a year. The highest he can get paid by state law is $250,000, a number that is similar to what some superintendents in small cities make.

A bill would raise that cap to $350,000, but there’s no shortage of frustration when talking about pay increases for government officials….

The bill still needs to pass the House and Senate, and DOE officials say it would only change the salary cap, and the actual salary itself would still be up for debate.

It also comes as discussions are underway to increase Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan’s salary….

read … Bill to raise Hawaii DOE superintendent pay cap sparks controversy (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Would Public Campaign Financing Help Republicans?

CB: … a high-profile Democratic legislator has publicly announced her opposition. Nakamura, the House majority leader, even fessed up to a partisan reason for her stand: She contends it will help Republicans more than Democrats….

Senate Bill 2381 heads for its first hearing Tuesday….

Nakamura explained her opposition during a Civil Beat legislative preview at the Capitol. She cited the 2022 governor and lieutenant governor races as examples of how the leading Democratic candidates raised far more money than their Republican counterparts.

If all those candidates had qualified for — and agreed to accept — the full public funding as proposed, they would have had equal amounts to spend on their campaigns.

“Why would we want to do that?” Nakamura asked. “I have some concerns about that and I believe taxpayers once they look at this data would raise similar concerns.

She later added, “I think we would be giving an unfair amount — taxpayer dollars — to a Republican who would not on their own have the support from the community to raise these funds.”…

“Using the full public financing system spelled out in my bill will require a grassroots effort that Democrats in Hawaii have always been better at,” Rhoads said. “For a state Senate race you would need to get 200 $5 contributions from residents of your district. Anyone who has ever knocked on doors knows this could take hundreds of hours if you can do it at all.”

“Any GOP candidate that could do that is going to be a formidable opponent under any system,” he said. “The advantage of this system would be that you would owe voters for your position, not private donors whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”…

read … Opposition Surfaces Early To Full Public Campaign Financing — And That’s A Good Thing

Miske trial as performance

ILind: … Right now, two weeks into trial testimony, it seems to me that the government’s case is ahead on evidence. But, in terms of performance, the defense is ahead.

There’s a stark difference between the legal styles of prosecution and defense attorneys. This was startlingly apparent during Thursday’s court session. It was the fourth day of direct examination of Wayne Miller, a confessed drug dealer and member of Miske’s of Miske’s inner circle, by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong. After a couple of hours, Miske’s lead attorney, Reno-Nevada based Michael Kennedy, a former federal defender, began his cross examination of Miller.

The contrast between their approaches was dramatic.

HNN: On stand, Miske muscle man repeats claim that alleged crime boss confessed to murder

read … The trial as performance | i L i n d

An alarming uptick in crime alerts HPD

KHON: … Honolulu Police Department data shows a 1,600% increase in gambling offenses year-over-year in January, so is there a concerning increase in crime or are the numbers just confusing?

The HPD crime dashboard showed big jumps in crime for a few separate offenses in Jan. 2024 when compared to Jan. 2023.

There was a 266% increase in hacking, 300% increase in homicide and a shocking 1,600% increase in gambling offenses, but west side community leaders said that is no surprise.

“You break down one game room, you got three more popping up,” said Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board chair Samantha DeCorte. “Anybody living in any other district would find that to be shocking. But living in the district that I live in, which has continual growth in criminal activities, ghost guns, murders, homicides left and right, you know, it’s almost kind of, you know, takes out the shock factor already!”

The Honolulu Police Commission pointed out there was only one gambling offense in Jan. 2023 even though 1,600% seems high. There were 17 offenses in Jan. 2024…

Borreca: On Politics: Honolulu police chief’s bungling riles mayor, public

read … An alarming uptick in crime alerts HPD

Hawaii County officials eyeing possible sites for massive festering homeless tent cities

HTH: … Homeless individuals could begin congregating in Hawaii County-authorized “Safe Spaces” in Hilo and Kailua-Kona under a new housing initiative.

In late January, the county carried out a sweep of a homeless encampment at Russell Carroll Mo‘oheau County Park, with dozens of homeless individuals displaced and forced to seek shelter elsewhere….

Roth said the county is considering different forms for the Safe Spaces: “It could be just a space for people to put out tents, with a vinyl fence around it,” he said.

Roth said several sites are being considered for the Spaces in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, highlighting in particular a possible Hilo site adjacent to a Salvation Army facility. The Salvation Army did not respond to requests for clarification on which specific facility is being considered….

“Every time we learn that unhoused individuals are asked to move and move along, we have asked where ‘can’ they go if they can’t be there,” Menino said in her statement. “We offer shelter. We manage 7 shelters in Hilo, Kona and Pahoa with 168 emergency shelter beds. On any given night there’s at least 700 unhoused individuals. So when shelter spaces are all full up, where can they go? We’re grateful the county is looking for additional safe spaces where they can go.”…

(SIMPLE SOLUTION: Build 700 more shelter beds and then vigorously enforce a vagrancy law.)

CB: Lee Cataluna: When A Horrific Crime No Longer Horrifies Us - Honolulu Civil Beat

read … ‘Safe Spaces’ plan underway: County officials eyeing possible sites for homeless camps

Money News: Mizuno and Moku are the Latest to Pretend to do Something About Homelessness

CB: …seeking funding to create a web portal to streamline community complaints and requests for services…

… trying to work on a database system for tracking people experiencing homelessness and better identifying the services they need….

…Creating a similar data “command center” will help the city figure out where it needs to engage and what services are really needed in each community….

… finding the funding to pay for all the services….

…signing up more people experiencing homelessness for federal programs….

(IQ Test: See how this works?)

read … The State And The City Have New Homeless Czars. Can Teamwork Provide Needed Momentum?

UH: 530 Dorms Closed --- going on 1,186

SA: … For the first week last fall that Dalton Barcus lived in his student housing apartment in Hale Wainani on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, he had no hot water, only cold water flowing from the taps.

Then for the next 2-1/2 months, he says, there was no cold water, only hot water.

“I never got burned in the shower, thank goodness, but the sink was really hot and I definitely burned my hands” — not so badly that he needed medical attention, he says, but enough to sting.

Serious plumbing problems are a major reason the 656-bed Hale Wainani apartments are considered by UH officials to be at risk of becoming the next aging UH student housing complex to be closed, following the neighboring 530-bed Hale Noelani apartment complex, which has been shuttered and silent for nearly seven years.

Neither complex has been renovated since being built in 1979 and 1978, respectively. Five of UH Manoa’s nine student housing complexes have never been renovated since being built in the 1960s and 1970s.

Poor conditions in several of UH Manoa’s 21 student housing buildings have become a political flashpoint: State Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Donovan Dela Cruz and other lawmakers have accused UH administrators of mismanaging the UH Manoa student housing operation, which earns $23 million a year, and houses and serves about 3,100 students….

read … Backlog of repairs plagues UH Manoa student housing as officials try for revitalization | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:  

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