With All Eyes on Mauna Kea, OHA, KSBE Insiders Make a Quick Grab for $6.7M
Loophole On the Way to the Top of Mauna Kea?
Hawaii: How Middle-Class Friendly is Your Community?
Work on Hawaii’s $3.2B airport modernization Slowed by Ignorance, Politics
SA: … progress has been slow-moving due in part to the airport system’s tether to the Legislature and the shifting priorities of lawmakers and gubernatorial administrations. Honolulu’s airport is one of only three major airports nationwide not run by a fiscally autonomous authority or corporation. The others are in Alaska and Maryland.
“When you have a change in administration, you move back two years. Everybody has to get comfortable with the (modernization) program, and then they approve or disapprove moving forward,” Higashi said. Even though DOT’s Airports Division is self-sustaining in that it does not receive funding from the state’s general fund, the Legislature and governor control the purse strings.
Despite backing from the DOT and airline chiefs, since 2016, bills to switch to the airport authority model, in which a state tasks a government-appointed private entity with responsibility for airport operation and oversight, have stalled at the state Capitol….
Supporters have maintained that an authority offers much-needed flexibility and opportunity to avoid bureaucratic snags and delays.
For example, currently, once the Legislature has adjourned from its regular session in May, funding adjustments must wait to be taken up the following session, typically starting in January. An airport authority could allow the state to approve lump-sum annual appropriations — generated from airport concessions and airline revenue — allowing the authority to make necessary adjustments between legislative sessions.
At the Honolulu airport, plans often need tweaking due to the vast scope of the place….
Much of the opposition to the airport authority model has been linked to the reach of state procurement rules. Proposed legislation has envisioned a corporation as exempt from procurement procedures that control how the state’s budget is implemented.
The state’s procurement code requires contractors to list their subcontractors, which guards against businesses farming low-bid work to subcontractors for profit. Some labor groups have worried that without state-imposed procedures, their interests would be less protected by a profit-oriented authority.
Moving forward, in addition to supporting authority-focused legislation, Higashi said the Airports Division is looking into other means to “modify” procurement in which intent is sound, but in practice, have rules that are cumbersome for the 15-airport, statewide system….
read … Work on Hawaii’s $3.2B airport modernization project hits halfway mark
Next mayor will Inherit Pile of Debt and Criminal Investigation of HART
SA: … Every impressive top post comes with a list of unfinished jobs, but when Honolulu’s next mayor is sworn in, he or she will find mountains of problems and a molehill worth of money to pay for them.
Yes, the biggest problem is the overbudget rail system. But the longer it remains unfinished, the more new, big-bucks problems pop up. There are now worries that transit station support arms for needed shading are defective and cannot support or protect the wiring needed on the station platforms. There are also new worries that the trains will draw too much current when they start, causing harmful electrical spikes in nearby residences and businesses. And no one has said they have a community-approved plan for how to run the rail down Dillingham Boulevard.
Also left to speculation is the federal government’s criminal probe into management of the rail system’s construction.
Back in February, new Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Andy Robbins said, “I haven’t seen anything that rises to the level of criminal activity.” Shortly after that, the investigating federal grand jury dropped a third subpoena on HART….
A winning candidate for mayor in 2020 will need to come up with a position on rail more substantial than, “Oh, I support rail, but it has to be closely monitored.”….
the seven would-be successors to Caldwell need a complete response to the mayor’s plans for a nearly $1 billion redo of the Blaisdell entertainment complex: Go ahead and spend the money, stop it now, or call for a study?
read … Next mayor will have mountains of problems, but mere molehill of money to pay for them
David Ige, Harry Kim play ‘who’s on first?’ as mauna protests grow
Shapiro: … As Mauna Kea telescope protests gained strength into their second month, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim and Gov. David Ige differed on who made the decision to call off arrests. It depends whether you believe Abbott or Costello.
>> Sen. Mazie Hirono hedged her bets on Mauna Kea, saying, “I believe in the rule of law … but I also believe people have a right to civil disobedience.” She’s from the Groucho Marx school of politics: If you don’t like her principles, she has others….
>> Mayor Kirk Caldwell held a political fundraiser at Waialae Country Club, asking up to $4,000 a head amid hints he’ll run for governor in 2022. Lofty ambitions for a guy who proved the Peter Principle two jobs ago.
>> Lt. Gov. Josh Green, also eyeing the governorship, fund raised in San Francisco for $2,500 donations, proclaiming: “I’m focused on providing caring, thoughtful leadership now and into the future.” Nothings says caring about Hawaii like getting paid off by California special interests.
>> The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation named former Island Air CEO David Uchiyama as chief operating officer for Oahu rail. Only HART would turn to the head of a failed airline to make this pig fly….
read … David Ige, Harry Kim play ‘who’s on first?’ as mauna protests grow
TMT Designed to Discover Life on other Planets
SA: … Hawaii has advantages that scientists say make it slightly better: higher altitude, cooler temperatures, and rare star-gazing moments that will allow the cutting-edge telescope to reach its full potential.
“Every once in a while at Mauna Kea, you get one of those magic nights,” said University of California, Santa Cruz astronomy and astrophysics professor Michael Bolte, a Thirty Meter Telescope board member. “When the air is super stable above the site, you get images that you simply couldn’t get anyplace else.”
Bolte, who has used existing Mauna Kea telescopes, said those “magic” Hawaii nights could hold discoveries that might be missed in La Palma.
“Let’s suppose one of your big science cases is to look for life on planets that are orbiting other stars,” he said. “The star is so much brighter than the planet you’re trying to observe, it’s really hard to do.”
The advanced optics and huge size of the Thirty Meter Telescope, especially if built at Mauna Kea’s higher altitude, could allow scientists to more easily detect potentially life-filled planets, Bolte said….
read … Hawaii or Spain? Telescope experts say it may not matter
HECO Wants Another Rate Hike to Line Green Energy Scammers Pockets
SA: … to help cover costs for grid modernization and other system improvements along with renewable energy investments, Hawaiian Electric filed a request Wednesday with the PUC to increase the base rate for electricity used by its customers by 4.1%.
If the proposed hike is approved, the monthly bill for a typical residential customer, using 500 kilowatt-hours a month, would increase by $8.67, likely taking effect in mid-2020 at the earliest. The utility bill last increased in February 2018, with a monthly hike of $2.60 for that customer….
read … HECO rate plan needs close look
Hawaii has mixed record on sanctions for nurses, physicians
SA: … A decade ago a woman surrendered her nursing license in Wyoming to settle allegations that she altered a prescription to obtain a controlled substance for herself.
Based on the Wyoming settlement, the nursing boards in Idaho, Texas and California revoked her licenses there in 2010 and 2012. But Jill A. Johnson was able to keep her Hawaii license — even after local regulators learned that she failed to disclose the prior discipline within 30 days as required and on her license renewal applications, according to state documents.
It wasn’t until May — 10 years after the mainland sanctions started — that Hawaii’s board of nursing finally took action against the Big Island resident based on her failure to report what the other states had done.
The panel of seven nurses and two public members, though, was more lenient than the mainland regulators. Instead of revoking Johnson’s Hawaii license, which she first obtained in 1999, the board fined her $1,000 as part of an agreement to settle the case against her. She did not admit any wrongdoing.
“The delay (of sanctions) is entirely unacceptable,” said Cullen Hayashida, a gerontologist and former member of Hawaii’s medical board, which oversees physicians. “Who’s watching the coop?”
The extended time lag came even as regulators have made progress the past few years in imposing more timely sanctions on Hawaii-licensed nurses, physicians, dentists and other health-care professionals who are disciplined in other states.
It also came despite a 2016 state law that established a more streamlined way to impose what is known as reciprocal discipline — sanctions based on penalties levied in other states. Under the law, regulators can rely on the formal findings of another state to take disciplinary action rather than launch a separate investigation.
Legislators adopted the streamlining measure following a Honolulu Star-Advertiser investigation that found that Hawaii physicians were able to continue practicing for months or years after their licenses had been suspended or revoked elsewhere. In many cases, regulators acted — but not until years after the triggering discipline and long after other states where the practitioners also were licensed had responded.
The Hawaii delays were mostly due to a lack of resources, outdated computer databases and a state disciplinary process considered time-consuming and clunky, according to the newspaper’s findings….
read … Hawaii has mixed record on sanctions for nurses, physicians
Group hosts garage sale, hopes funds will stop Kahuku wind turbine project
KITV: … A group of North Shore residents hosted a garage sale Saturday morning in Kahuku for a special cause. Ku Kiai Kahuku is a grassroots movement that started two weeks ago, hoping to prevent a big wind project from developing in their backyard. Through community fundraising efforts, the group hopes to raise $10,000.
"If you don't speak out now, more billion dollar companies will come, they will keep coming and they'll keep pressing on these communities who can't afford the time or the money to pay for legal representation," Kananiloa'anuenue Ponciano, Ku Kiai Kahuku, said.
Development company AES Corporation say the proposed facility Na Pua Makani is expected to power 7,000 homes. It hopes to be operational by May of next year. Opponents are concerned about the impact on endangered species like the Hawaiian Hoary Bat and also on human health.
"The Opeapea isn't just an endangered species by federal law which it is and by state law, which it is but it's also our kupuna," Liz Rago-Ka'ili, Ku Kiai Kahuku, said.
"Kids who have epilepsy, it can lead to shadow flickers here, can lead to sleep deprivation and all kinds of other stuff," Ponciano said….
read … Group hosts garage sale, hopes funds will stop Kahuku wind turbine project
Short-term vacation rental rift creates a house divided in Waikiki
SA: … A fierce battle is brewing at Waikiki Lanais, where the Association of Apartment Owners board just voted to add a hotel front desk to the property and spend at least $40,000 to hire an attorney to defend the right of some owners to continue renting their units short-term.
Ainslie Ports, who is on the AOAO Waikiki Lanais, said she and other like-minded board members see the move as part of their fiduciary duty to protect property values, which she said have begun to plummet since short-term rentals are no longer allowed in the building….
read … Short-term vacation rental rift creates a house divided