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Friday, January 22, 2021
January 22, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:44 PM :: 1075 Views

Case Reintroduces Bill to Regulate Air Tours

Bidenworld: Lesbian Revolutionary from UH Manoa Appointed to Department of Energy

DHHL Opens Public Comments Period for Gambling Proposal

OHA Asks for $3M in Legislative Package

Money to Burn: Virtual Community Meetings Planned for New Aloha Stadium Boondoggle

New HECO Solar Plan: Install First Ask Questions Later

How Trump Waikiki Sold out in 8 Hours

Hawai‘i State Senate Updates Leadership and Committee Assignments

DHHL Releases Results of 2020 Beneficiary Survey

December 2020 Hawaii Hotel Occupancy 23.8%

New Route For Honolulu Rail? Any ‘Hare-Brained’ Scheme Is Being Considered

CB: … Honolulu rail’s new interim executive director, Lori Kahikina, says she’s asked the project’s staff for “any out-of-the-box idea” — however “hare-brained” it might sound — to help get the transit line past Dillingham Boulevard and to Ala Moana.

That could involve avoiding Dillingham altogether and shifting rail elsewhere, such as along Nimitz Highway, Kahikina said in an interview after Thursday’s Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board meeting, her first as the agency’s new top executive.

On Thursday, Kahikina told Civil Beat that under her leadership HART would no longer pursue the clearance variances for utilities along Dillingham that the rail agency had previously sought from its counterpart agencies at the city.

That includes clearances from the Department of Environmental Services, which Kahikina oversaw under former Mayor Kirk Caldwell before moving to HART this month.

“We’re not going to get them,” Kahikina said of the clearance variances. HART must now seek an alternative approach to “avoid shoving (utility relocations) down the city’s throat,” she said….

During Thursday’s meeting HART Project Director Steven Cayetano said HART is considering a “mauka shift” in route along Dillingham but he didn’t offer specifics.

Any drastic changes in the rail alignment would likely trigger new environmental impact reviews that could add more delays and costs to the project, HART board member Jon Nouchi cautioned during the meeting.

Kahikina said her recollection is that rail’s environmental approvals encompass an area that is “maybe a block or two” from the current alignment, so the mauka shift being discussed might not require a supplemental environmental impact statement.

Any changes that would require such environmental approvals might still be worth it, compared to the current approach on Dillingham, she added after the meeting….

Despite being a semi-autonomous agency, HART will operate as an extension of Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration, she said.

Several veteran officials at HART and members of Robbins’ inner circle were ousted Jan. 4, Kahikina’s first day on the job. She also held an all-hands meeting that day to address the agency staff and consultants on what to expect under her leadership.

“We are to be open, honest and transparent, even with the bad news,” she told the board Thursday. “Dishonesty will not be tolerated.”…

read … New Route For Honolulu Rail? Any ‘Hare-Brained’ Scheme Is Being Considered

Commission only wants to see election success in all-mail balloting—Sends in late report to Legislature

HTH: … Despite a 2020 general election when some Oahu polls closed almost four hours late and some Hilo voters spent three hours in line, the state Elections Commission is sending the Legislature a rosy review in its required biennial evaluation of the conduct of the election.

During a meeting Thursday via Zoom, the commission, already 20 days late in submitting its report, voted to send a report that doesn’t include concerns raised by residents and groups submitting comments during a meeting last month. The report, under state law, is required to include findings and recommendations from the biennial evaluation.

“I’d like to get this report in,” said Chairman Scotty Anderson. “Yeah, we had a few problems, but it was mostly a smooth election.”

Commissioner Lillian Koller pushed for a delay until comments could be evaluated and included.

“I don’t see any way we as a commission can conclude our report to the Legislature without including the concerns that were raised,” Koller said. “The purpose in our report to the Legislature is not to gush with enthusiasm over a job well done. Our job is to identify what concerns have been expressed within our jurisdiction so the Legislature can take action.”

Commissioner Carol Seielstad disagreed.

“We were just listening to people’s comments,” Seielstad said. “Much of it was hearsay.”…

But unprecedented voter registration and turnout, coupled with seeds of mistrust in the mailed system sowed by some political operatives, sent unanticipated numbers of voters to cast ballots in person on Nov. 3. Pandemic safety protocols slowed the in-person voting process as machines had to be sanitized between voters and the number of people allowed inside at any one time was restricted.

Ma hopes government can provide more voter drop boxes and more voter service centers for the next election.

Other issues raised by testifiers were questions about chain of custody of ballots on Oahu and Maui, whether voter rolls should be purged of lapsed voters meeting certain criteria, signature verification processes and selection of election observers.

“To not be heard or to not have our voices shared would disenfranchise some of the citizens of these islands,” said Laura Nakanelua, national committeewoman for the Republican Party of Hawaii….

read … Commission sees election success in all-mail balloting

Rate Hikes Coming: HECO, Public Utilities Commission move ahead with performance-based regulation

PBN: … After granting a recent motion for reconsideration by Hawaiian Electric Co., the state Public Utilities Commission is moving forward with performance-based regulation that is expected to ‘lower’ customers’ bills (Translation: ‘Raise’) over time even as the state shifts to more green energy production.

HECO’s wish — less in front-loaded costs to roll out the new policy — was granted, but there will still be a burden upon the utility to deliver on expected cost savings. Its mandate to reduce operations costs likely means a gradual reduction in workforce in years to come, HECO spokesman Jim Kelly told Pacific Business News during an email exchange on Thursday.

Kelly expressed gratitude to the PUC for its quick decision on the motion, but noted, “Even though the alternative saving plan accepted by the commission will have a smaller impact on our finances, it still requires the delivery of customer savings totaling $12.6 million this year. We’re not backing off our plans to reduce expenses by working more efficiently and this is a requirement that’s baked into [performance-based regulation].” ….

Dec 24 2020: Rate Hikes Coming: PUC Approves New Battery Incentive Scheme for HECO

Jan 5, 2021: HECO motions to appeal PBR framework

read … HECO, Public Utilities Commission move ahead with performance-based regulation

The Opening Day Speech That Never Was

CB: … There was no “Aloha Mai Kakou, Aloha!” to be heard on Opening Day at the Hawaii State Capitol this year. Speaker Scott Saiki had locked down the state House’s 2021 Opening Day Ceremony to only include the swearing-in of legislator

He rightly decided there would be no festivities, entertainment, food or any merry-making at the Capitol on Wednesday.

However, he wrongly decided that there would be no Opening Day addresses or speeches by key leaders and in the House chamber. That’s the reason for this article.

The people of Hawaii deserve to know what is on the horizon from their legislators. They need to know the thinking and reasoning behind where our state’s ship is going….

read … The Opening Day Speech That Never Was

13,690 Hawaiʻi Households Received Nearly $60 Million in Pandemic-Related Housing/Rent Assistance

MN: … Through the program, Aloha United Way distributed nearly $21 million to Hawai‘i renters and homeowners through partnerships with more than a dozen non-profit agencies. Catholic Charities Hawai‘i distributed another $38 million with four partner agencies….

read … 13,690 Hawaiʻi Households Received Nearly $60 Million in Pandemic-Related Housing/Rent Assistance

New findings show more than half of Hawaii’s hotel rooms will remain empty in 2021

KITV … The American Hotel and Lodging Association paints a scary outlook for Hawaii in its latest 20-page report….


PDF: Report

read … New findings show more than half of Hawaii’s hotel rooms will remain empty in 2021

20% of all parking tickets issued over the last 5 years went unpaid, state records show

HNN: … One out of every five parking tickets issued in Hawaii over the last five years has gone unpaid, Hawaii News Now has learned.

That amounts to nearly $11 million in uncollected fines, state records show.

The top offenders for unpaid fines are rental car companies. Thousands more tickets can’t be traced to anyone at all because of data entry mistakes, bad handwriting and other issues.

The revelation comes as the state scrambles to address a massive fiscal crisis. The millions in unpaid fines should be in the state’s general fund. Instead, it’s likely much of it will remain uncollected….

read … 20% of all parking tickets issued over the last 5 years went unpaid, state records show

Some Moloka'i residents push to restart Maui-Moloka'i ferry

KHON: … The "Maui-Molokai Ferry," as it was known, once ran between Maui County and Oahu. That was in the 80s and 90s. It's possible to bring it back - but its owner says, not likely.

Moloka'i resident U'i Kahue remembers when she'd ride the Sea Link of Hawaii ferry to Maui or Oahu. "It was based in Moloka'i and did a run from Moloka'i to Maui for people doing day trips, doctor's visits, school sports, and work commuters. Then it'd do a trip to Honolulu," she says. At one point, Kahue even worked as a staffer on the ferry.

She says she loved service. "You could school shop, food shop at Costco, and if you got it on the ferry, fabulous. In a time now where you can't even bring checked luggage unless it's a certain size, makes it really hard," Kahue says. That's why she is pushing for the ferry to start again.
Kahue is part of the
Hawai'i Tourism Authority's Moloka'i Steering committee, helping grow tourism to the island. She says most of her fellow committee members agree. The ferry sailed from 1987 to 2016, though after about ten years, it stopped servicing Oahu….

read … Some Moloka'i residents push to restart Maui-Moloka'i ferry

Biden Signs Order Fully Reimbursing Hawaii National Guard For COVID-19 Operations

CB: … The Trump administration had previously agreed to pay for 75% of costs associated with the historic nationwide deployments of National Guardsmen….

read … Biden Signs Order Fully Reimbursing Hawaii National Guard For COVID-19 Operations

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