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Monday, June 3, 2024
June 3, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:05 PM :: 1709 Views

Hawaii Ranks #1 for Hidden Home Buyer Fees

Miske lost a key supporter with passing of Buzzy Hong

ILind: … I learned of Buzzy Hong’s death from a post when a friend forwarded a May 23rd Facebook post by Senator Donna Kim:

Buzzy Hong was a remarkable friend, mentor, and uncle. I am deeply saddened by his passing this past weekend, and it’s still hard for me to fathom. He will be sorely missed. Aloha, Uncle Buzz!

As far as I can tell, that’s been the only public notice of his death. And that strikes me as unusual, given that Hong was no stranger to Hawaii’s inner circles of political and economic power.

William H. “Buzzy” Hong attended Roosevelt High School and graduated in the Class of 1959. He played football for UH, then joined the Honolulu Police Department and was assigned to HPD’s new Metro Squad, a special unit launched in 1960 that was designed to find and deal with people on the streets looking for trouble. The Metro Squad, headed by Larry Mehau, patrolled in cars carrying teams of four physically imposing local men, dressed informally in aloha shirts and slacks. When trouble threatened, they would respond in kind.

Hong and Mehau were among nine local sumo wrestlers chosen in 1964 to compete against a team of 40 top sumotori from Japan that included three grand champions.

Hong retired from HPD after more than 25 years, and in 1990 became Executive Director of the Building and Construction Trade Council AFL-CIO, immediately moving onto the list of 20 highest-paid local labor leaders. During two decades at the helm of the council, Hong moved comfortably into the inner circles of community power and influence.

A search of newspaper archives shows Hong rarely appeared in the news except when seen in attendance at charitable events, in part because of the general absence of news coverage of organized labor’s inner workings and impact.

But in 2017, Hong emerged from the shadows to throw his substantial political clout in support Mike Miske’s bid for authorization to place lights on a tree in a public park along Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai. Miske said the tree lights were a memorial to his son, Caleb, who died in March 2016 of injuries sustained in a car crash several months earlier….

After the Department of Parks and Recreation declined to issue a permit for the tree lights, Miske–with the active backing of Hong and longtime ILWU stevedore division director, Nate Lum–enlisted the support of then-Councilmember Trevor Ozawa to put forward Bill 40 (2017), a measure that would have authorized similar arrangements in any city park. That bill, which was strongly opposed by parks department officials, was used as a threat to force the department to agree to give Miske his permit. “Do it, or else,” was the clear and direct political message.

During Miske’s ongoing criminal trial, several witnesses have testified that Nate Lum was Miske’s contact within the ILWU, who enabled Miske to place selected individuals into dock worker jobs. When Lum lost his position with the stevedore division, Miske allegedly assigned several people to attack or kill the ILWU official who was blocking Miske’s continued access to the high-paying stevedore jobs.

Lum was later convicted on federal charges of failing to pay federal taxes and identity theft, and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment….

Background: Say 'Uncle' -- What Connects Miske to Kealoha?

Background: The Secret History of the Mercado Kim Crime Family

Background: Hawaii ILWU Official Sentenced for Tax Evasion, Identity Theft

read … Miske lost a key supporter with passing of Buzzy Hong

Criminal Al Hee says PUC does not have authority to choose DHHL service carrier

HNN: … Sandwich Isles Communications has released a statement in response to the state’s demands that it continue service to Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries.

The statement comes after the Public Utilities Commission issued an order for Sandwich Isles continue to provide phone and internet service Friday evening, just hours before the company said it would disconnect the service.

The PUC said SIC was in violation of state laws and set a hearing for June 17.

The statement was in a letter to PUC Chair Leo Asuncion. Albert Hee of Sandwich Isles Communications wrote that the commission does not have the authority to choose the carrier that provides service to Hawaiian Home Lands….

SA: Hawaiian Telcom vows to serve Hawaiian home lands amid disruption

DHHL: Department of Hawaiian Home Lands | DHHL TO DISTRIBUTE WI-FI HOTSPOTS TO PUʻUKAPU PASTORAL LESSEES

PDF: June 1, 2024 Statement by Criminal Al Hee

read ... Sandwich Isles Communications says PUC does not have authority to choose HHL service carrier

Stalled? Plan To Cut 7,000 Maui Vacation Rentals Hits Pause

BH: … Some Maui Council officials appear ready to hit the pause button on the Mayor’s decision to eliminate 7,000 vacation rentals on the island. It’s been reported they are reallocating $300K to study its impacts before proceeding to approve the controversial Maui Mayor’s plan. This move, which we can’t independently confirm based on records from Maui County, would indicate a significant shift from the earlier momentum towards fast-tracking the plan….

read … Stalled? Plan To Cut 7,000 Maui Vacation Rentals Hits Pause

939 Still in Hotels , but FEMA Is Canceling Some Of Its Direct Leases To House Maui Fire Survivors

CB: … Brendon Finnecy opened an email on Wednesday with the unexpected news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had canceled his direct-lease contract to house Maui fire survivors in his Pacific Shores condo with an ocean view in Kihei.

“I was blindsided,” he said last week. “We signed up for the program, clearing out our calendar for a year in good faith that they would use it to help wildfire victims.”

Finnecy is not alone. Other property owners are getting the same cancellation notice as FEMA winds down its contribution to housing survivors of the Aug. 8 blaze in pricey resort rooms and into less costly direct leases….

The American Red Cross said as of Thursday there were 369 households left in the hotel program representing 939 people. Many of those households are not eligible for the FEMA program or cannot be placed into direct-lease units due to reasons that include not passing criminal background checks.

Some survivors not living in hotels also are eligible for direct leases, including those whose lodging benefits from their insurance have ended or are running out.

In the meantime, FEMA is constructing a temporary group housing site in Lahaina that will have 169 units available later this year, but well after the June 10 deadline. The state is building a 450-unit group housing site adjacent to that property for survivors not eligible for FEMA assistance, but it won’t be ready for months.

On Friday, more than nine months after the Aug. 8 fires in Lahaina and Kula displaced about 13,000 people, FEMA ended its program to provide meals to survivors still living in the hotels….

FEMA officials and Green have said that some households have turned down direct lease units several times…

read … FEMA Is Canceling Some Of Its Direct Leases To House Maui Fire Survivors

Lahaina: McKelvey Talks About Who Won’t Be Allowed to Rebuild

CB: … McKelvey pulls over, gets out and points back up the waterfront.

“From there onward, where Kimo’s was and all the stuff that was on the water, that’s all burned and gone and when they clear it all out, you’re rebuilding in an inundation zone (and) it sounds like you’re not going to be eligible for the flood insurance program.”

Throw in the coastal regulations requiring setbacks from the shoreline, he says, and rebuilding here “could violate all of the rules.” …

McKelvey points out the fire-ravaged Malu Ulu o Lele Park, where a much-more aggressive effort is underway to not just restore history but unearth it.

A sandbar island known as Moku‘ula and its surrounding fishpond Mokuhinia have been buried for decades under the park. Its ball field was once the former seat of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and Gov. Josh Green has already promised “to restore this sacred space to the community.”

McKelvey is heartened by plans to reclaim a “Cultural Corridor,” which he calls “a huge undertaking, but the groundwork can be laid now. This is why I’m a huge fan of central planning.”

That’s a reference to his failed — at least for now — attempt to establish a community district with the power to oversee state and county restoration efforts in Lahaina….

read … Will We Recognize Lahaina Once It's Rebuilt? A Maui Lawmaker Ponders The Question

Bill 23: Council advances gift ban bill for Honolulu city and county employees

SA: … The measure, introduced in April by Council Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia‘aina, replaces Bill 26, a 2022 measure that expired earlier this year after surpassing its two-year deadline without Council passage….

Oahu resident Natalie Iwasa criticized Bill 23, particularly involving gifts worth no more than $50 per year.

“Many of these exemptions are reasonable if the intent is to limit gifts to $50 per year from a single source. The bill’s current form, however, is not clear about the one-year restriction,” she wrote. “The list of exemptions in effect creates a much higher annual threshold than the $50. Perhaps an overall annual threshold should be included in the bill, exemptions notwithstanding.”

Iwasa requested the Council discuss the inclusion of “or may receive income from third parties as a result of the financial relationship” within the bill….

Ultimately, Bill 23 was reported out for possible third-reading adoption at the full Council’s meeting on Wednesday….

Bill 23: Text, Status

read … Council advances gift ban bill for Honolulu city and county employees

Profiteers Plan to Enlarge Kahuku's Controversial Wind Farms—but Council Bill Could Block Them

CB: … A proposed update to Honolulu’s land use ordinance could jeopardize the long-term survival of wind turbines in Kahuku that have been operating — and generating opposition — since 2011.

The land use changes being discussed by the Honolulu City Council would require new turbines to be built further from residences and structures.

The existing turbines could stay. And they could be repaired.

(TRANSLATION: They are nearing the end of their service life and should be dismantled.  Instead profiteers are grubbing for more money with bigger blades and turbines.)

But because of changes in the wind power industry (insert excuse here) the only available replacement blades might be bigger, and opponents believe that would give them leverage to have them phased out….

(CLUE: Wind turbines and solar panels are dead after about 15-20 yrs use.  We are about to begin seeing a lot of dead and abandoned ‘green energy’ stuff littering the landscape statewide.)

read … Tweaks To Honolulu's Land Use Law Could Jeopardize Kahuku's Controversial Wind Farms

Honolulu Building Code Bill ignores tsunami safety and emergency procedures

CB: … The bill raises two building safety issues.  Issue No. 1: Tsunami Vertical Evacuation… Issue No. 2: Hurricane Windborne Debris Protection ….

read … Honolulu Building Code Bill Puts Developer Profits Ahead Of Public Safety

SB3139: Get mentally ill aid they need, deserve

SA: … Thousands of people in the state are cited or arrested each year for offenses such as drinking liquor in public, loitering in public parks after hours, and camping on sidewalks, beaches and other restricted public places, noted legislative conferees for SB 3139. “Most of these people suffer from issues relating to drugs, alcohol, or mental illness and may be better served through the health care system, rather than the criminal justice system.” ….

read … Editorial: Get mentally ill aid they need, deserve

Legislative Agenda:

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