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February 20, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:06 PM :: 898 Views

Sand Island Disclosure After BRAT Threatens Blangiardi with ‘Citizens Arrest’

Bill to Dissolve Agribusiness Development Corporation Passed Out of House Committee

How to prevent abuse of Hawaii’s emergency law

Stop playing with the numbers

COVID Vax to be Available for Age 70+

Sacred Rent Money: House resolutions outline plan to transfer control of Maunakea Master Lease

HTH: … A pair of resolutions was introduced today on the floor of the House of Representatives to form on working group on the management of Maunakea.

The resolutions were expected. House Speaker Scott Saiki said in the Feb. 2 floor session that it’s time to replace the University of Hawaii as the management entity of Maunakea. He added at that time that a resolution would be introduced later.

Saiki also said the university should stop its pursuit of renewal of its master lease of the Big Island mountain, home of Hawaii’s world-class astronomical observatories.

That lease expires in 2033.

House Resolution 33 and House Concurrent Resolution 41, introduced by Rep. David Tarnas, a Democrat who represents North and South Kohala and a portion of North Kona, describes the working group’s purpose as “to develop recommendations, building on the findings of the Independent Evaluation of the Implementation of the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan, for a new governance and management structure for Maunakea that collaboratively engages with all stakeholders, particularly the Native Hawaiian community.”

The Maunakea plan evaluation, prepared by the economic development consulting firm Ku‘iwalu for the Department of Land and Natural Resources and published in 2020, found, according to the resolution, “that a lack of genuine consultation with the Native Hawaiian community has resulted in greater mistrust of the University of Hawaii and management of Maunakea, leading to polarization between various stakeholders on Maunakea and our communities.”

The working group would be comprised of a chairperson appointed by the House speaker; three House members appointed by the speaker; seven members who are Native Hawaiians to be nominated by Native Hawaiian groups, organizations or communities and appointed by the speaker; one representative from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; one representative from the Board of Land and Natural Resources; one representative from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents; and one representative from Maunakea Observatories.

That group would be tasked with a report to the Legislature of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, by Dec. 31….

read … Tarnas introduces two state House resolutions on Maunakea management

Star Adv: OHA’s Latest Scheme to Upzone Kakaako Makai “Not in Public Interest”

SA: … OHA argues that it cannot generate revenues “consistent with the rate of return expected for a $200 million investment” without building residential.

But the Legislature wisely prohibited such development in 2006, after Alexander & Baldwin’s attempts to erect two high-rise condominiums in the area met with fierce opposition. OHA accepted the 10 parcels with full knowledge of the restriction. Even so, it continues to lobby the Legislature to reverse course.

This year, it’s Senate Bill 1334, which would allow six of OHA’s lots to include residential development, with high-rises on two of them.

OHA says that the bill would “create parity for OHA with … mauka landowners, by affording this Native Hawaiian-serving agency the same land use options for its parcels as those enjoyed by its mauka neighbors.”

However, along the corridor where OHA would build, there’s a big difference between mauka and makai. The Legislature has long recognized the unique worth of Hawaii’s coastlines, including publicly owned land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard, stretching from Magic Island to Kakaako Waterfront Park. Full public access and enjoyment of the island’s shores — including the spectacular views — have a fundamental value….

400-foot towers, akin to the private luxury condos across the street, are beyond the pale. In exchange for short-term profit, they would forever close off the opportunity to transform a precious public space into a vibrant gathering place for generations to come. It’s just not in the public interest….

read … Editorial: Towers in Kakaako Makai

One minimum wage bill still alive

HTH: … All but one of the bills in the state Legislature that would raise the minimum hourly wage appear to be dead.

Earlier this month, four bills were introduced that would have increased the minimum wage in Hawaii from the current $10.10 an hour to three different rates. Two bills proposed incremental yearly increases that would eventually end at $17 an hour, while another proposed an increase to $11 an hour beginning next year.

All three of those bills have failed to move past their first committee, with the only bill showing any sign of life being Senate Bill 676, which would increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour beginning in 2022. That bill passed its second reading in the Senate on Tuesday….

SB676: Text, Status

read … One minimum wage bill still alive

Affordable housing: Dozens of bills

PBN: …Dozens of bills introduced in the House and the Senate address various aspects of developing affordable housing — most of the first 43 bills introduced in the Senate last month had to do with housing. Ige’s list of 430 administration bills mentions housing 43 times in titles and descriptions and the HHFDC, the state agency charged with administering the state’s affordable housing laws, is tracking more than 200 bills related to housing, including some measures aimed specifically at increasing housing for Native Hawaiians and public school teachers and others that reduce fees, such as school impact fees, for affordable housing developers.

Many of the housing bills are advancing toward passage in their respective chambers after being heard in committee hearings. The first crossover for bills is on March 11.

HHFDC, which administers the 201H affordable housing law, as well as the state’s low income housing tax credit, or LIHTC, program, and other financing programs, is the subject of a handful of the bills, including one proposal (House Bill 757/SB 1322) that would replace a public member on its board of directors with the chairperson of the Hawaiian Homes Commission — Denise Iseri-Matsubara, HHFDC’s executive director, testified in opposition of HB757, and told her board last week that HHFDC was “strongly opposed” to the measure.

She noted that House Bill 902 would expand HHFDC’s ability to use public lands for housing and would help to streamline the development process.

Among the bills that haven’t progressed are Senate Bill 1, which would create the “Aloha Homes” program of leasehold for-sale homes on state or county lands under 99-year lease terms — the measure has failed to gain traction during the past two legislative sessions.

About a half-dozen bills directly address the LIHTC program, in particular House Bill 80, which would expand the pool of potential investors for tax credits, which would create a more competitive marketplace and higher prices for the credits, creating more equity financing for low-income housing….

Several bills address the State Historic Preservation Division, whose backlogs can add months, or years, to a project, including SB869, which allows SHPD to contract a third-party firm to conduct a review if the department is unable to complete it within 60 days….

Another bill moving forward, SB510, would also do that, but goes a step further by allowing the state DLNR, “in consultation with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs,” to delegate the historic review process to the counties….

Several other bills shift the responsibility for affordable housing to counties, including Senate Bill 33, which would require each county to prepare a plan to increase the housing supply, for all income levels, to meet the demands of that county, and includes the funding for the counties to conduct the studies.

SB779 would require the counties to authorize construction of 10% of the forecasted demand of housing units over the next four fiscal years, starting July 1, “to require the counties to be proactive in the production of new housing units rather than reacting to individual housing projects …”

SB740 would create a “Department of Housing” that would place HHFDC, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, the Hawaii Community Development Authority and the Office of Planning under one administrative agency….

SB1338 and its companion, HB1277, would establish an “Office of the Housing Advocate” within the governor’s office….

read … Covid-19 put Hawaii’s need for affordable housing into sharp relief. Lawmakers responded with dozens of bills.

Sand Island Contributions to Blangiardi, Say

ILind: … It’s impossible to say, without substantial on-the-ground reporting, how much of this money was given at SIBA’s request or with specific consideration of SIBA’s jockeying for political influence. And, of course, no candidate will admit to being affected by any special interest’s monetary support. However, it’s certainly fair to say SIBA can claim to have a number of politically involved members who are willing and able to write checks to candidates they choose to support. I suspect that gets any candidate’s attention.

And this count is still likely another underestimate.

When I looked at the all contributions made at the same time as several SIBA board members or other sublessees, there were several people who repeatedly gave on those same dates that do not have direct ties to SIBA. The pattern leads me to suspect their contributions were indeed SIBA-related, but I haven’t found the connections yet, so chose to leave them out of this list.

I’ll have to return at another time to report on SIBA contributions to Calvin Say…

Related: Sand Island Disclosure After BRAT Threatens Blangiardi with ‘Citizens Arrest’

ILind: Thinking about campaign finance

read … More SIBA campaign contributions to Mayor Blangiardi

DoE Employee Quits Just before Child Molestation Arrest

KHON: … A 65-year-old Kalaheo man suspected of sexually assaulting a minor was recently arrested by Kaua'i Police.

He was arrested Thursday for one count of sexual assault in the second degree, as well as promoting child abuse in the third degree.

He is a former Department of Education (DOE) employee and a former Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor. Police located him at his Kalaheo home and booked him at police headquarters. He was later released pending investigation.

The DOE says he worked at Waimea High School and separated from the department on Feb. 11, 2021.

Kaua'i police believe there could be more victims involved in separate incidents.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce at 241-1681. Those who would like to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers Kaua'i at (808) 246-8300 or visit www.cskauai.org.

Yesterday: 3 SPED Girls Allegedly Raped on Konawaena High School campus

read … Another day in the DoE

Family Sues Over Fatal State Capitol Shooting By Deputy Sheriff

CB: … On a night in February 2019, according to DPS, a deputy sheriff — who the state has still not named and whom the lawsuit only refers to as “Defendant Doe” — ended up in a scuffle with Espejo, who officials said had an open container of alcohol on the Capitol grounds.

The state says that at some point in the struggle, Espejo held the deputy in a chokehold, at which point the deputy shot Espejo in the back. …

The lawsuit also challenges officials’ description of Capitol staffing by the sheriffs’ office at the time. DPS said the Capitol was fully staffed, but the lawsuit cites a separate case in which a former sheriff sergeant says that the building was not fully staffed that night….

The Honolulu Police Department opened a second-degree murder investigation into the shooting, but state prosecutors never brought charges.

DPS also opened an internal investigation, which has since been completed, department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz wrote in an email.

The deputy is still employed at the department.

The shooting brought renewed scrutiny to the sheriffs division over how it trains its deputies, its equipment, its policies and its lack of accreditation by a national agency required by law a decade ago….

read … Family Sues Over Fatal State Capitol Shooting By Deputy Sheriff

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