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Thursday, March 25, 2021
March 25, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:18 PM :: 1961 Views

Carrying Guns in Public Is Not a Constitutional Right, Ninth Circuit Rules

Record High Tally of Hawaii Firearm Permit Applications in 2020

What are the Limits to Hawaii Governors' Emergency Powers?

The Eight Hour Protest: Hirono, Duckworth Back Away from Boycott of White Nominees

OHA Board Chair Testifies Before U.S. House Subcommittee on COVID-19 Impacts on Native Hawaiians

Sheriff's New First Deputy 'Owes HGEA Everything'

State House to Restore Funding for Hilo Youth Challenge

Stimulus Bill Expands Access to Free or Low-Cost Healthcare Coverage for Hawaii Residents

Report: College enrollment disrupted for Hawai’i class of 2020

‘Rolling Blackouts’ to Come with shutdown of AES coal plant in 2022—Finger-Pointing begins at PUC, HECO

PBN: … The clock is ticking for the state as it prepares to make its most significant shift off of fossil fuels on Oahu to date, as a recent, fiery meeting between top energy stakeholders underscored.

Last week, the virtual session about transitioning off of the AES coal plant — the largest source of energy on the island — and onto renewable energy projects by September 2022 ended with Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chairman Jay Griffin excoriating Hawaiian Electric Co. for what he perceived as a lack of urgency and foresight.

The concern is that delays of a number of renewables projects that were intended to make up for the AES plant’s 180 megawatts will leave Oahu with a very tight fuel reserve margin, opening up the possibility of rolling blackouts in the event of failure, noted PUC Commissioner Jennifer Potter.

The coal plant in West Oahu, which supplies about 15% of the island’s electricity, was officially slated for retirement upon passage of Act 23, which banned further use of coal past 2022.

During the meeting, HECO Senior Vice President of Planning and Technology Colton Ching described some of the project delays being a result of a slow permitting process of getting models and information from prospective developers, often outside of HECO’s control.

An incensed Griffin said a few minutes later, “You point the finger at all these other entities for these delays. But what I see, every single project and program that runs through this department, is stuck in the slow lane. Every single one. And how are we going to meet any of this in an acceptable way, if we’re stuck in the slow lane and it’s all everyone else’s fault?”

Scott Glenn, chief energy officer at the Hawaii State Energy Office, was also in the meeting. He was already in the process of assembling various entities into what's being called a "governor’s task force" of about a dozen people charged with looking for ways to speed up projects. Glenn said in the meeting, and reiterated to Pacific Business News, that it’s a “shared responsibility” to see a smooth energy transition.

“The PUC made it clear there’s 18 months until the planned turning-off of the coal plant,” Glenn said. “So, we don’t want to spend a month standing up a task force when there’s only 18 months to get the job done.”

Ching acknowledged to the PUC during the meeting that margins “are going to be very tight” when AES shuts down, but that “we will be OK” if planned projects come online….

Related:

read … State, HECO scrambling to ready for shutdown of AES coal plant in 2022

Green Energy is a Joke: West Oahu Battery Farm will always be Charged by Oil-Burning Plants

CB: … But Hawaiian Electric says its Kapolei Energy Storage project will save customers money over the life of the project….

(Translation: And the rate hikes are here to stay because batteries are an expensive scam.)

Hawaiian Electric will have little new electric generating capacity when the coal plant’s long-anticipated shut down takes effect in September 2022. Instead, the company hopes to have brought online a giant battery storage project in Kapolei. The idea is that the battery can provide fixed, firm power when needed and fill the hole left by the coal plant.

But Griffin and fellow Commissioner Jennifer Potter expressed dismay about a central part of the plan: until more big renewable projects can be brought on line, the giant battery will be charged largely with electricity produced by oil-burning power plants, and not renewables, which are central to Hawaii’s much-ballyhooed plan to generate virtually all of the electricity sold in the state with renewable resources by 2045.

(CLUE: The batteries will be dead in a few years—long before any renewables are around to charge them.)

“We’re going from cigarettes to crack,” Griffin at one point told Hawaiian Electric’s Colton Ching, senior vice president of planning and technology. “We’re going from coal to oil.”…

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

As Griffin described it, the change will cost Hawaiian Electric customers significantly more, and that cost will be subject to volatile oil prices. While the coal plant generates power for about 8 cents per kilowatt hour and some renewable projects using solar and storage are expecting 11 cents, Griffin said the giant battery costs will be 25 cents to 30 cents or more, depending on oil prices.

“It’s not hard,” Griffin said about his calculation. “I did it on the back of an envelope. It’s not pretty.”

(Yes.  This scam means massive rate hikes for you.)

IM: HECO`s proposed massive battery in Campbell Industrial Park is projected to triple the cost of the coal-based electricity that it replaces.

Meanwhile: Eight Hawaii Law Firms Defend Fossil Fuel Companies Against Maui & Honolulu Climate Change Lawsuits

Bonus Read: The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet

read … Oahu Customers May See Their Electric Bills Rise Next Year As Power Plant Converts

SB614: Unemployed to be Socked with $190M Tax Bill

SA: … Proposed legislation that would exempt unemployment benefits from Hawaii’s income tax hit a roadblock this month when President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan. While the federal relief package exempts unemployment compensation up to $10,200 from federal income taxes, it prohibits states from using the federal aid to plug budget holes created by tax cuts. 

(Blame Biden—that’s the plan!!  IQ Test: Do you believe them?)

Gov. David Ige and House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke say the prohibition likely ties the state’s hands when it comes to tax relief bills such as Senate Bill 614, even as some states and tax experts challenge that interpretation….

Luke and Rep. Richard Onishi, who chairs the House Labor and Tourism Committee, said they have no intention to take it up. In addition to the federal rules, they note they would have to come up with an estimated $190 million in next year’s budget to cover the cost of the lost tax revenue….

Gary Hooser, a former state senator from Kauai who has played a leading role in Hawaii’s progressive movement, said it was premature to scuttle Senate Bill 614 and that workers deserved the extra relief given the state’s handling of unemployment benefits.

“And to just say no after all that these people have been through, based on some prediction that doesn’t look to be true. It just seems bad.”

The U.S Treasury Department didn’t respond to a request to clarify the federal relief rules relating to tax cuts. But a White House official told the Washington Post earlier this month that the law doesn’t say states can’t cut taxes at all, but rather “instructs them not to use that money to offset net revenues lost if the state chooses to cut taxes.”

“So if a state does cut taxes without replacing that revenue in some other way, then the state must pay back to the federal government pandemic relief funds up to the amount of the lost revenue,” the official said….

SA: Expiring Hawaii jobless claims are being extended in batches

As Explained: Does the American Rescue Plan Ban State Tax Cuts?

read … Bill exempting jobless benefits from state taxes hits a snag

Coronavirus: Hawaii to Vax all Adults by Mid-May

SA: … Hawaii will come to close to meeting President Joe Biden’s nationwide goal of having all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations by May 1, but the islands likely will be a week or two behind schedule, Gov. David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii online video program Wednesday.

Hawaii is now receiving 68,000 to 70,000 doses of vaccine per week — about half for the initial injection and half for a second dose, Ige said.

And more deliveries of the coveted one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are on the way, Ige said….

Discussions with the White House continue about a so-called visitor vaccine passport that would identify vaccinated travelers to possibly avoid quarantine or additional COVID-19 testing.

The White House COVID-19 coordinator “calls it a vaccine validation” and discussions are expected to resume during next week’s call with the White House, Ige said.

“We will be talking about that more next week,” he said. “It’s something that’s on their radar.”…

Asked about hopes of lowering the penalty for not wearing a mask from the current misdemeanor to a mere citation, Ige said it’s unlikely to happen this legislative session.

His office later clarified that the latest version Senate Bill 540 is still alive.

“It would allow for lesser emergency period penalties to be adopted by the governor or a mayor so citations could be issued for non- compliance re: mask wearing,” his spokeswoman wrote in an email to the Star-Advertiser…. 

read … Coronavirus vaccinations: Hawaii to miss President Joe Biden’s goal

Hirono’s 8-Hr Boycott of Biden’s Whiteys designed to Push Coloretti for OMB

CB: … Prominent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii are urging President Joe Biden to select Nani Coloretti to be the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Coloretti, a 1987 graduate of Iolani School, would be the first American of Filipino descent to be nominated to a Cabinet-level position, according to a March 15 letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. She was deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.

The letter is signed by nearly 100 people “AAPI community leaders, advocates and allies” that include Ben Cayetano, the former Hawaii governor. It comes in the wake of the March 2 withdrawal of Neera Tanden, an Indian American, to be budget chief….

(Translation: She’s from Iolani.  She will give us money.)

Related: The Eight Hour Protest: Hirono, Duckworth Back Away from Boycott of White Nominees

read … Hawaii AAPI Democrats Back Iolani Graduate For Biden Post

The Early Childhood Community Emerges Ready to Lead

CB: … As we look toward an expanded future for early learning opportunities, let’s lean on the people who have been leading the entire time.

(Translation: We were working while HSTA was being paid to do nothing.)

When we read the article about a decrease in preschool enrollment, we noticed a clear omission of the unsung heroes in the early childhood community. Conversations about school reopening (HSTA refusal to work) consume the nation (Hawaii) while every day child care and early learning providers welcome our youngest learners with open arms. Yet, nobody is talking about this heroic feat….

At the ground level, providers have found ways to stay open or reopen. Child care providers have always been deemed essential businesses. Many providers remained open to care for the children of essential workers (unlike HSTA)….

By the end of May last year, child care providers were allowed to care for children of non-essential workers. Most child care and early learning providers reopened over the summer. By now, approximately 85% of regulated providers have resumed caring for children (unlike HSTA)….

As noted, transmission on campus and in the classrooms has been minimal. DHS worked with other agencies, including EOEL and DOH, legislators and child care providers themselves to develop reopening guidelines. These guidelines prioritize keeping children and staff healthy, making it feasible for providers to stay open.

The guidelines are the result of a true community effort because we knew that the best way to weather this pandemic was by working together. DHS collaborated to administer grants and contracts to child care providers. DHS issued $2.1 million and also partnered with the Hawaii Community Foundation to get an additional $11.3 million directly to child care providers to offset increased costs due to the pandemic….

(We won one of the biggest bureaucratic turf battles of the decade, and…) The State Legislature has charged us (not the DoE) with expanding access to early learning over the next decade. We hope that out of the ashes of this horrific pandemic, the strong relationships we have forged will allow us to realize their vision where every child can be nurtured and learn before entering kindergarten. We also hope that decision-makers start looking to early childhood professionals as experts who can help lead us forward….

Background: Report Ties Hawaii Youth Suicide Rate to HSTA Grab for HGEA Positions

SA Column: New DOE chief should engage community to help students

read … The Early Childhood Community Emerges Ready to Lead

SB804: Affordable teacher housing bill moves forward

HTH: … A measure that would authorize the state to provide affordable rental housing units for teachers has moved one step closer to being passed.

The state House Committee on Housing passed state Senate Bill 804 SD1 HD1 by a vote of 7-0, with amendments, on Tuesday. The measure aims to address Hawaii’s teacher shortage by appropriating funds from the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and the dwelling unit revolving fund. The state Department of Education would also be required to partner with private entities to procure teacher housing…

Under the proposal, the DOE would be required to lease land — in contract with private entities — for development, management, maintenance or revitalization of housing for teachers employed by the department or public charter schools. Though the housing would prioritize teachers, the owners of these properties would be allowed to rent to eligible non-teacher tenants if the project is less than 95% occupied by teachers…. 

(Translation: Its a scam.)

To remain alive, the bill still needs to secure a hearing before the House Committee on Finance. A hearing date had not yet been scheduled as of press time Wednesday….

read … Affordable teacher housing bill moves forward

SB767: Ige has ‘big concerns’ about marijuana bill

WHT: … Senate Bill 767 is one of the only surviving marijuana-related bills passing through the state Legislature this session, and would, if passed, legalize the personal use, possession and sale of limited quantities of the controlled substance.

read … Ige has ‘big concerns’ about marijuana bill

DUI threshold bill stalls: House committee defers measure to lower legal blood alcohol limit

WHT: … A House committee Tuesday deferred a measure that would have made Hawaii the second state in nation to lower its blood-alcohol threshold for drunken driving to 0.05.

The proposed measure, Senate Bill 754, passed through the state Senate earlier this month but failed to gain traction in its first of two committee assignments in the House on Tuesday.

Following more than 25 minutes of testimony and discussion, House Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Mark K. Nakashima (D-Hamakua and Hilo) recommended deferring the measure. With the move, Senate Bill 754 is for all intents and purposes dead this session unless revived through gut-and-replace tactics.….

read … DUI threshold bill stalls: House committee defers measure to lower legal blood alcohol limit

1 year later, Brun still awaits trial

TGI: … More than a year has passed since former Kaua‘i County Councilmember Arthur Brun was arrested for allegedly operating a methamphetamine-distribution ring on Kaua‘i.

Brun, who was arrested along with 11 others in a drug sting by the Kaua‘i Police Department on the basis of a 29-page, federal indictment on Feb. 13, 2020, is still awaiting a trial, in the Federal Detention Center near Honolulu International Airport.

During a traffic stop, Brun allegedly threw a bag of methamphetamine from his car as he led a police pursuit that had not been made public before the February arrest. Police later recovered the illegal drugs.

A county news release described a “major drug-trafficking organization” headed by Brun, who according to the federal indictment was known as “Ata” within the drug ring.

Brun’s trial was continued from Feb. 28, 2021, and is now scheduled for Aug. 9.

Pulling a $5,621 a month salary from February 2020 to December 2020, Brun was paid more than $42,000 in taxpayer funds while he was still a councilmember and behind bars. His term on the council ended Dec. 1.….

read … 1 year later, Brun still awaits trial

Lawmakers Advance Bail Reform To Help Keep Criminals on the Streets

CB: … Lawmakers may be closing in on a political compromise this year that could finally reduce the number of people held in jail because they cannot post bail for low-level, non-violent offenses.

(Great: More criminals on the street.  We need more crime.)

Bail reform was a key recommendation of the Criminal Pretrial Task Force in 2018, but the Legislature did not pursue any major reduction in the use of cash bail when it adopted some other task force recommendations in 2019.

This year, lawmakers may be taking the plunge with Senate Bill 1260, which would eliminate the use of monetary bail for at least some people accused of traffic offenses, non-violent misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor crimes and some low-level non-violent felonies.

The bill would require judges to release more people who are arrested for those offenses back into the community without bail while they wait for the courts to resolve their cases.

(Great: More criminals on the street.  We need more crime.)

Advocates for change say the current system is unfair because it allows wealthy people to quickly post bail and win release, while poor people accused of the same offenses may remain in jail for months awaiting resolution of their cases….

(Reality: Families of arrested meth addicts with $100 Bail CHOOSE to leave the bum in there because this is the first break they have had in months, if not years.  SB1260 is UNFAIR to the families of tweekers.)

HNN: Hawaii lawmakers advance bill to fund prison oversight group

read … Lawmakers Advance Bail Reform To Fix A ‘Broken’ System

Fake UH study by BLM Wannabees concludes Hawaii should defund the police

HNN: … Hawaii leads the nation for arrest of public school students, a new University of Hawaii concludes.

But the Department of Education cautioned the study may be based on incorrect assumptions or data.

(Translation: Its a fake-data study by the usual suspects at UH Manoa.)

The report used data from the US Office of Civil Rights, DOE, and Honolulu Police Department. It found Hawaii’s schools contacted law enforcement more frequently than any other state.

From 2013 to 2016, more than 1,000 public school students were arrested and they are disproportionately Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Black and those with disabilities.

“The bottom line is a very serious over-representation among Native Hawaiian and Black students with and without disabilities who were arrested on school grounds,” said UH sociology Professor (grad student) Omar Bird.

The study does not cite specific schools, grade levels or provide a gender breakdown.

“One of the main inclusions and recommendations of our report is to shift public funds and public monies away from criminalizing students and towards actually addressing what is actually happening in their lives,” said UH sociology Professor Nandita Sharma.….

(Recycling: Same usual activist suspects chasing the cause of the minute.)

CB: HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu, who emailed the files, also clarified that police use the word “arrest” broadly when officers respond to schools for offenses like truancy and runaways and does not mean students are taken into custody.

She explained that a police officer will meet with school administrators and generate a report, at which point the student is left at the school with administrators.

“Because status offenses are not criminal, the child does not qualify to be kept in a ‘detention’ facility,” Yu wrote. “The officer is to document the report from the school administrators.”

(Wow. BLM ‘Scholar’ Sharma didn’t see fit to mention these little details.  IQ Test: Are you surprised?)

read … UH study concludes Hawaii leads the nation in arrests of public school students

Concerns over coronavirus travel passport verification process

KHON: … State officials are working on a travel passport that would allow fully vaccinated travelers to bypass testing and quarantine. Some officials say the authentication process is causing problems, however.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green hopes to roll-out Hawaii’s travel passport program by mid-May.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) director Kenneth Hara said, they are worried about the vaccination verification process.

Hawaii tracks vaccinations using the federal Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

“The VAMS system is the federal system to simply upload whatever person has been vaccinated,” Green explained. “We upload their name, date of birth, and what shot they got. That system will be helpful nationally. And we upload locally.”

Hara said, not every state is using it and it has drawbacks.

“The VAM system is like a giant swimming pool and information just goes in there,” Hara explained. “So there’s no way to sort by state. Names could be different from what’s on your identification. For example, I’m Kenneth Hara, or is it Ken Hara. Or is it Ken S. Hara.”

Another issue, according to Hara, is that artificial intelligence can not read vaccination cards if they are uploaded to the system because the cards are all handwritten….

Hara said, they are concerned people will start making counterfeit immunization cards unless there is a computerized system in place to check the cards.

“We would be very clear to people that if they falsified any records, they would be subject to a misdemeanor charge, which has a significant fine,” Green said. “So I don’t expect that to happen.”…

F: Hawaii: An Update On Its ‘Vaccine Passport’ Program

read … Concerns over coronavirus travel passport verification process

City Council OKs audit of HPD’s overtime costs after department spends additional $38M

HNN: … On Tuesday, an assistant chief told councilmembers that the department welcomes the audit.

“Because we always want to make sure we are doing the best we can, it’ll give us an opportunity not only to assess what we are currently doing, but also make the necessary changes to improve and better the way we serve our community,” said Rade Vanic, HPD assistant chief.

The city auditor may also investigate HPD’s use of CARES Act money to buy vehicles and equipment….

CB: Honolulu Police Overtime Reached New Heights In The Last Fiscal Year

Related:

read … City Council OKs audit of HPD’s overtime costs after department spends additional $38M

Blangiardi Nominates Former HPD Officer For Police Commission

CB: …  The Police Commission conducts oversight of HPD and has the power to hire and fire the chief. (Hint, hint….)

The ACLU just settled a lawsuit with HPD over a case involving a conflict of interest: an officer who arrested a rival of his teenage son. In Wisch’s view, Mahi’s selection poses another conflict of interest.

“Appointing someone to the Police Commission who is not only a former HPD officer himself – but who is married to a current HPD officer – sends exactly the wrong message to HPD,” he said.

“It’s telling HPD to continue with business as usual – including its failure to address conflicts of interest – when a fundamental reimagining of how it does business is what’s needed.” …

PDF: Nomination (10pgs)

read … Blangiardi Nominates Former HPD Officer For Police Commission

Conflict of interest? Kern signs off on approval of project he represented as a planning consultant

WHT: … As planning director just after the Dec. 7 inauguration of the mayor, but prior to his confirmation, Kern on Dec. 10 signed off on the tentative approval of a preliminary plat map, listing conditions that would have to be met for approval to be finalized, according to county documents.

Kern on Feb. 20, 2020, had represented the client, Jean K. Campbell Trust and Jeffrey S. Clapp Trust, before the Leeward Planning Commission, official minutes show.

“The tentative subdivision approval letter for Jean Campbell’s subdivision was inadvertently signed by me three days into my new position — prior to having all conflict protocols in place. Our amazing staff later caught the mistake, and a letter was issued last week, rescinding the subdivision’s tentative approval,” Kern said Tuesday.

“As promised, I am committed to recusing myself from any possible conflict, and this situation is no different. I take full responsibility for the mishap and applaud my staff for their diligence,” he added….

It’s not known if other projects could have been signed off before protocols were put into place. The newspaper Feb. 8 requested a copy of the client list Kern provided board members that was discussed at its meeting but was told by ethics staff the list is “not available to the public as it was requested that it be kept confidential and the Board has not made a ruling on it yet.”

Roth said he’s confident the breach was a “one-off.” He doesn’t expect further problems.

“We have a process to keep those things out,” he said. “At the time we didn’t.”

read … Conflict of interest? Kern signs off on approval of project he represented as a planning consultant

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