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Wednesday, August 21, 2019
August 21, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:27 PM :: 2463 Views

Hawaii Community Colleges: How Does Your School Rank?

For Hawaii, Cost of Dying is Like Cost of Living

Is the government helping or hurting the Hawaii economy?

Caldwell Considering Possible Run For Governor

CB: … Kirk Caldwell, who will complete his second and final term as Honolulu mayor in January 2021, is weighing a campaign for Hawaii governor in 2022.

Lex Smith, campaign chairman for all three of Caldwell’s mayoral bids, acknowledges that the mayor is looking at the governor’s office as well as others.

They include the Honolulu City Council seat being vacated by Ann Kobayashi, and the 1st Congressional District that represents urban Oahu….

While Caldwell has not publicly announced his intentions, he has scheduled a campaign fundraiser Oct. 1 at the Waialae Country Club. Suggested donations range from $1,000 to $4,000.

The fundraiser is for the office of mayor, even though Caldwell cannot by law run for mayor again. He would be allowed to use any money raised, however, for a county or state office, but not federal office….

Caldwell last held a fundraiser in March 2017. His campaign had $117,000 in cash as of June 30.

The governor’s seat is not open until 2022, when Gov. David Ige will complete his second and final term.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green has already held one fundraiser for governor and has a second one scheduled Wednesday night at the Pacific Club. Suggested contributions range from $500 to $2,000.

Republican Andria Tupola, a former state legislator who lost to Ige in 2018 by a landslide, is also considering another run for governor.

read … Caldwell Considering Possible Run For Governor

Opinions on TMT issue don’t carry equal weight

Cataluna: … Recently, former Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa phrased it this way: “We’re going to let a handful of people stop what most people believe is a good project?” Arakawa’s estimation of a “handful” is way, way off, but there are other problems with that argument.

There have been opinion polls based on a sampling of Hawaii residents, but that’s not the same as a statewide vote or referendum. It is not an exact count or a measurement of engagement. To answer “yes” on a phone poll about supporting a project requires almost no actual commitment. You can say, “Yup. Build it,” from your lounge chair in your air-conditioned living room and go right back to your Doritos and evening TV. “Support” in this case is in theory, not in action. To say one “supports” the building of the massive telescope does not mean one has to actually do anything or give up anything or be connected in any way. It’s a passive kind of support as opposed to the commitment of the thousands who have kept the construction vehicles at bay for over a month….

(Translation: Any activist willing to protest long enough wins.)

(Idea: Lets cut off all the taxpayer-funded salaries of the professional protesters and see how long they last.)

Best Comment: “Lee, in advance as a family friend, I'm piling on. On this issue of TMT on the Maunakea and the protectors, you are 100% wrong. The TMT has a 100 points and the protectors 0 (zero) with the maximum 100 points available, following some 10 years within the established process and courts. The approval of the Hawaii Supreme Court and the awarding of the "Notice to Proceed" provides the TMT all 100 points.”

read … Opinions on TMT issue don’t carry equal weight

Maunakea used to be shared by everyone

SA: … I remember when the people of Hawaii island freely shared the summit of Maunakea. We had all kinds of cultural practices.

When it snowed, we slid down the slopes, had snowball fights, built snowmen, and filled our pickup truck beds with snow to take to Hilo for our kids to play in. Everybody had fun!

When there wasn’t snow, we hiked in the solitude of the summit, gazed at the beauty of Lake Waiau, or worshipped at shrines we built. The majesty of our mountain was overwhelming.

At night we could register for observatory tours. We learned about the profound knowledge of the universe and marveled at the technology of the telescopes.

Now, all this has ended because a group of professional malcontents are making a power grab, and self- appointed “protectors” are dictating who can be on the mountain and what they can do there….

SA: Rules would restrict access to Maunakea

read … Maunakea used to be shared by everyone

$4 million and counting: The costs of state-county response to TMT protest site

KITV: … Spending on law enforcement related to the Thirty Meter Telescope protests at Mauna Kea has topped $4 million, Always Investigating has found in KHON2’s ongoing tally of costs and impacts there. Hawaii County also got a letter today from the governor outlining conditions for reimbursement of their police efforts at the mountain.

The state is not providing a centralized cost tally for Mauna Kea law enforcement, so we continue to piece it together, and it is nearing $4.1 million.

Hawaii County’s tab was last reported around a quarter-million dollars through mid-July, but we learned today it has since spiked several million dollars, county councilmembers were told late this afternoon

“I was expecting a bump from our $258,000 last meeting but here we are now at $3.2 million, that is a big number,” said Hawaii County Councilmember Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder.

“Last time the $258,000 was basically for one day,” Hawaii County finance director Deanna Sako told the council, “so this is cumulative, and the payroll is thru July 31, the days work thru July 31, and the other costs are thru yesterday.”

“Our total costs are $3,271,966 for all departments — overtime and other costs,” Sako clarified directly to Always Investigating. “The majority — $3,095,245 — is for police.”

Hawaii County Police Chief Paul Ferreira told the council they had to go to 12-hour shifts islandwide in July. They’ve cut that back some but still have more than 20 officers assigned to the protest area now.

Always Investigating also found out the Attorney General’s office has spent $300,000 spent so far on airfare, vehicles and fuel for multiple agencies, more than $150,000 for equipment and supplies, and another $166,000 in overtime just for Attorney General staff. Those figures do not yet include other state staff such as Sheriff and DLNR costs.

These new figures are on top of the more than $160,000 the Honolulu Police Department says it cost them in overtime, travel and vehicle shipping.

Maui Police Department gave KHON updated numbers this afternoon saying they spent more than $100,000 on overtime, travel and vehicle shipping.

All of these figures so far add up to nearly $4.1 million, with many more bills still to be calculated….

read … $4 million and counting: The costs of state-county response to TMT protest site

Hawaii Supreme Court Stands up to Political Pressure

ILind: … Among the social media comments made regarding the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, many chastise the state government and courts for doing nothing to protect Hawaii from rampant overdevelopment or to protect Hawaiian rights.

In my view, though, Hawaii’s courts have stood up to tremendous political pressure and insisted that the Legislature and the Executive branches uphold provisions of the State Constitution written explicitly to protect important native rights.

For several years, judges and justices were threatened with loss of retirement benefits, or politicization of the appointment process, in apparent retaliation for a high court decision that the legislature had for years breached its constitutional responsibilities to provide sufficient funds to the Department of Hawaiian Homes.

And the Hawaii Supreme Court added to its line of cases on Hawaiian rights in a decision issued on August 13. The decision came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a mother and her two childeren on Lanai. They wanted to enroll the children in a Hawaiian immersion program. When no such program proved to be available on Lanai, the family filed suit, claiming a constitutional right to enter an immersion program ….

read … Hawaii Supreme Court issues important ruling on Hawaiian language education

Hawaii County debt nears half a billion

WHT: … The county’s current outstanding debt, including bonds, state revolving loans, bank notes and bonds reimbursable by the Department of Water Supply, now stands at $477.6 million, a 34.4% increase over the $355.4 million debt in 2008….That doesn’t include $40 million the state loaned the county for lava recovery work….

The county is paying $52.9 million in principal and interest on its debt during the fiscal year that started July 1. While that may seem like a substantial chunk out of a $585.5 million overall county operating budget, it’s below limits imposed by general accounting principles and state law.

The county’s bond debt ratio, based on all debt approved by the County Council, is at 11.4% of general expenditures, nearing the 15% ceiling recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association. But the county has so far borrowed about 9.1%….

Few council members have historically balked at the borrowing, reasoning that a growing population needs facilities. The capital improvement budget proposed this year by Mayor Harry Kim — basically a “wish list” of projects that may not all get built right away — includes 39 projects requiring a total appropriation of $160 million….

read … County debt nears half a billion

UPW Malingering Causing Prison Staff Shortages--Driving Up OT Costs

CB:  … The state Department of Public Safety spent nearly $14 million in fiscal year 2019 in overtime pay — about $3 million more than the previous year, mostly because of staffing shortages, its director says.

Nolan Espinda told state senators Tuesday that the correctional staffing shortages were caused by vacancies, which are fueled by recruiting challenges, coupled with employees taking authorized leave.

“It’s a challenge every single day,” Espinda said.

The Senate committees on Ways and Means, and Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs hosted a public informational hearing Tuesday on Maui to hear updates on the public safety department’s operations, including the status of the final report on the Maui Community Correctional Center’s March riot.

Espinda also provided a chart showing the staffing realities, including vacant positions, vacation and Family and Medical Leave Act figures, which showed that more than half of the 1,384 correctional positions in Hawaii’s facilities were unstaffed at some point in fiscal year 2019.

There were 171 vacant positions, the chart showed. And filling those positions has not been easy, Espinda said.

So the department has adopted a more aggressive approach to recruiting, including eliminating some of the mathematical and grammatical questions on the tests that served as barriers to what Espindo said were otherwise qualified candidates…. 

read … Prisons Director: Staff Shortages Are Driving Up OT Costs

Kauai: Will Police Misconduct Allow Homeless Tweeker Walk after Killing Girl?

TGI: … More details emerged Tuesday about officers who conspired to cheat on a Kauai Police Department test, as a policeman involved in the reported scheme took the stand in the negligent homicide trial of a Kapaa man accused of killing a young woman in a hit-and-run accident….

Hanna said he was able to determine that the Nissan pickup truck Safadago allegedly stole, swerved into oncoming traffic on Kuhio Highway near Coconut MarketPlace in Kapaa and ran head-on into Huddy-Lemn’s Mazda sedan at a “minimum speed of 88 miles an hour.”

But under cross-examination, Hanna may have provided testimony that could affect the credibility behind the police work leading to Safadago’s nine-count indictment — he is facing four felonies and a potential life sentence for manslaughter.

“I’m gonna ask you first about the misconduct,” Safadago’s lawyer, Emmanuel Guerrero, said as he began questioning Hanna Tuesday morning….

According to court documents in Safadago’s trial and another unrelated criminal case currently pending in Fifth Circuit Court, Hanna and several other KPD officers were investigated by the department’s internal affairs unit for conspiring to cheat on a test or covering up afterward. Hanna admitted last week that he gave another officer a copy of a test he was required to pass before joining the KPD’s traffic safety section….

2017: After Death of Kauai Girl, DLNR Clears Homeless Drug Addicts out of Kalalau

read … Details of cheating in KPD emerge at trial

Investigation launched into whether Maui officer offered to throw trial for woman he arrested

HNN:  … Authorities have launched a criminal investigation into whether a Maui police officer offered to throw a drunk driving trial for a woman who says he inappropriately contacted her just hours after she was booked ― sending text messages and calling her ― and pressuring her repeatedly to visit his house.

The woman fears retaliation and believes the officer looked up her phone number in the arrest report, and also knows where she lives.

Following questions about the case, the Maui Police Department released a statement Tuesday:

The Maui Police received information from Hawaii News Now regarding a potential abuse of authority within the Department. Following up on that information the Criminal Investigations Division was able to obtain text messages and voice recordings that support the allegations made against one of its officers….

read … Investigation launched into whether Maui officer offered to throw trial for woman he arrested

KSM boys volleyball player suddenly switches to girl—Immediately Becomes National News

MN: … A high school transgender athlete was on the roster and sat on the bench, but did not play in a girls varsity volleyball match Tuesday in what is believed to be a first for the Maui Interscholastic League.

It also raised concerns in the Maui sports community about the potential for a competitive physical advantage by transgender athletes.

The athlete played for the KSM boys junior varsity volleyball team as a freshman in 2017.

“I’m not going to say anything about our transgender athlete,” Kamehameha Maui Athletic Director Jon Viela said Tuesday.

USAT: A transgender girl is playing volleyball in Hawaii. At least one coach is not happy about it

read … KSM girls volleyball roster includes transgender player

Drone captures hidden homeless camps that dot Oahu’s south shore

HNN: …High above Kuilei Cliff Beach Park local photographer, Ethan Tweedie, unknowingly captured a photograph of a mostly hidden homeless camp near one of Oahu’s richest neighborhoods.

“I just flew my drone did a little panorama,” said Tweedie. “I started zooming in on the picture to make sure it was clean for the print and started noticing all the homeless camps.”

Tweedie says he took the photo in May. It shows a total of 42 separate campsites. Since then, he says, squatters have just kept coming….

Up close, many of the camps are surrounded by piles of rubbish accompanied by a pungent smell of urine and feces….

… One of the messiest camps HNN found sits at the base of a brand new switchback trail the city opened earlier this month as part of a $2 million improvement project….

People who live nearby say the park’s not safe and a recent crime wave has the community on edge.

“In the last three weeks we’ve had six break-ins in our neighborhood,” said resident Stephany Sofos. “Nothing’s getting done. Nothing’s happening and we’re having to defend ourselves.”

The encampments are on government property split between two jurisdictions.

The state is responsible for Diamond Head Monument while the city maintains the Kuilei Cliffs and the beach below.

Nathan Serota, spokesperson for Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the last time either area was swept was more than six months ago….

In the meantime, officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources says they’re thinking about building a chain link fence on the monument.

They say a 4,000-foot-long, 12-foot-high barricade would cost more than a half million dollars….

KHON: the city removed more than eight tons of trash in February before renovating the walkway down to the beach.

read … Drone captures hidden homeless camps that dot Oahu’s south shore

Kapiolani CC Enrollment Down 25%

CB: … The college has seen a 25% decline in enrollment over the last decade and plans to eliminate 329 student employee positions in the coming year….Once the largest community college in the University of Hawaii system, KCC has faced declining enrollment for a decade. Now it is having to make major adjustments to make up for a $2.1 million budget deficit as a result of waning tuition dollars in the 2020 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

read … Cut

Complaints Of Unsafe, Unhealthy Housing Conditions Plague Hickam

CB: … A recent independent national survey called it one of the most problem-plagued military housing complexes in Hawaii and the nation.

Hickam is part of what has been known since 2010 as Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Though the two bases have been joined into a single operational unit, base housing is run by two separate for-profit firms, Australia-based Lendlease, operating as Hickam Communities, and, on the Pearl Harbor side, Texas-based Hunt Cos., which operates in Hawaii under the name Ohana Military Communities.

The combined installation earned the dubious distinction in May of ranking among the most criticized bases by military families surveyed by the Military Family Advisory Network. Pearl Harbor-Hickam ranked eighth in the nation in terms of total responses out of 157 bases surveyed, getting more adverse comments than any other base in Hawaii.

The overall rating of housing at Pearl Harbor-Hickam was “negative,” or 2.3 on a five-point scale, with 59% of the respondents reporting problems in maintenance, repairs and remediation. In addition, 24% of recent or current residents cited finding “filth,” 21% said homes had been built with “low quality materials,” and 19% cited mold as a problem.

About 16% said their homes were “dilapidated and outdated,” 12% cited insect infestations and 7% said their homes were plagued with rats.

In interviews with Civil Beat, service members said the biggest problems are concentrated on the Hickam side….

read … Complaints Of Unsafe, Unhealthy Housing Conditions Plague Hickam

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