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Wednesday, January 26, 2022
January 26, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:05 PM :: 2167 Views

Honolulu 3rd Worst 'Sinkhole City'

Maui County to implement COVID-19 booster requirement

$100 Refund--How About $1,361?

DoH: No Evidence Board of Water Supply drinking water impacted by Red Hill Spill

Defense Appropriations Chairman Jon Tester Tours Red Hill, Does Not Commit to Shut Down

Bribery: Another Former Honolulu DPP official pleads guilty

SA: … A former building plans examiner with the Honolulu planning department pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking bribes in exchange for expediting the approval of permit applications.

“I took money, which I shouldn’t have, to help these people to get their permits … before others,” Jennie Javonillo told a federal judge in pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan said Javonillo participated in a scheme from 2009 to 2018 to accept cash bribes in exchange for “favorable and preferential treatment” in approving permits.

She took bribes from an architect, a builder, an engineer and others, Nolan said.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, she agreed to pay $58,000. She is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

An indictment last year alleged that five current and former employees of the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting took bribes in exchange for favors, including approving plans for residential projects and nullifying code violations.

Architect William Wong was also indicted. He pleaded guilty last year, admitting he paid about $89,000 in bribes. Former building plans examiner Kanani Padeken also pleaded guilty and admitted she took at least $28,000 in bribes. The city fired her after she pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud.

They’re scheduled to be sentenced in April….

Related:

read … Former Honolulu city official pleads guilty in permits bribery scheme

Hawaii’s state auditor Les Kondo blasts House hearings as ‘hit job’

SA: … State Auditor Les Kondo has blasted a draft report of a five-month-long special House Investigative Committee that was created to scrutinize two audits but quickly expanded into an investigation of Kondo and his office.

In his reply to a draft report of the committee’s work sent to him just before the New Year’s holiday weekend, Kondo said it smelled of a “deliberate political ‘hit job’” and was not conducted in a “fair and impartial manner.”

The auditor’s response, dated Jan. 14, called the draft report “incomplete” and “entirely devoid of any findings whatsoever.”…

In place of “facts,” Kondo said the draft report relies on “commentaries” that are “riddled with misinterpretations, errors, and inaccuracies.”…

Kondo also quoted remarks in the draft report by committee member Rep. Dale Kobayashi (D, Manoa-­Punahou-Moiliili), “the only professional auditor on the committee,” that characterized the criticisms contained therein as “mostly innuendo” that “seemed designed to cast a negative light on the Office of the Auditor. … Much of what was said pertaining to the auditor was way over the line and can even be construed as defamatory.”

As for Kobayashi’s assessment of the document as a whole, according to Kondo, “Much of what is said in this report is incorrect and improper.”

Speaking for himself, Kondo went on to write in his reply, “To be honest, we believe the people of Hawaii are tired of these kinds of political machinations and maneuvers.”…

The Committee is publicly scheduled to meet on Thursday, January 27, 2021, and can take up this matter of the disclosure of the Committee’s draft report…. 

SA Off the News: More heat than light about Les Kondo

Dec, 2021: Hawaii Ethics and Audit Function at Lowest Level in Years

read … Hawaii’s state auditor Les Kondo blasts House hearings as ‘hit job’

Calling OHA’s Bluff:  HB2024 Would Strip Mountain of Telescopes, Hand it over to Hawaiian Activists

SA: …Oversight of Mauna Kea’s summit would be the purview of a new stewardship authority, instead of the University of Hawaii, under a proposal set to be considered by the state Legislature.

House Bill 2024 requires the new entity to develop a framework to limit astronomy development and create a plan to return the summit to its natural state.

(CLUE: No telescopes = No rent money.)

The bill reflects the findings of the Mauna Kea Working Group established in 2021 by the state House of Representatives and charged with coming up with an alternative form of management for the state lands above 6,500 feet, including the astronomy reserve….  

read … House bill would phase out University of Hawaii, create new Mauna Kea stewardship authority

Hawaii Governor Says He’s Not Ready To Permanently Close Red Hill

CB: … The governor wants to see proof the Navy can operate the fuel tanks safely but says he’ll consider issuing the facility a new permit. …

HNN: Gov. Ige explains why he isn't calling for the permanent closure of the Red Hill fuel facility

read … Hawaii Governor Says He’s Not Ready To Permanently Close Red Hill

Ige: Booster shot added to Safe Travels Program ‘In next few days’--No Int’l Visitors Until End of Year

KHON: … “I don’t have a specific date to let you know at this point, but we do expect to be able to announce that in the next few days,” Governor Ige said….

The requirement would mean travelers to the State of Hawaii would need to have their COVID booster shot in order to by-pass quarantine. The other option for folks not vaccinated or who haven’t gotten their booster would be to get a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before departure….

KHON2 asked the Governor why the requirement hasn’t yet been implemented. He responded saying it’s a logistics issue with the Safe Travel’s website.

“It is an issue about updating the Safe travels platform and being able to accept the third vaccination,” Ige explained.

The Governor said the website is being updated now so that it can automatically approve boosters. He wants to avoid bottlenecks at Hawaii’s airport screening stations.

“Just like you were required to enter the information, you know, your name, the location of vaccination and date and which vaccine was administered, it would probably be a similar function for the third shot,” Ige said about how the updated website would work….

The Governor said adding the booster requirement is part of his plan for full economic recovery, and another piece of that plan is to bring back international visitors.

“We continue to have dialogue with Japan, with South Korea, with Canada, with Australia,” Ige said. “We are working really hard to get that restarted again and I do expect that before the end of the year, international travel will be back to normal.”… 

CB: Hawaii Governor Not Requiring Boosters Yet For Hawaii Travels

read … Gov. Ige confirms booster shot requirement will soon be added to Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program

Boost-or-test mandate brings challenges to Maui businesses

HNN: … It’s day two of the boost-or-test mandate in Maui County where less than a third of the population is boosted.

With so few people having the additional shots, it’s having a negative impact on some businesses.

Maui Brewing Company Kihei general manager, Tony Ren, said business has been slower than usual. In addition, he said it has been tough finding eligible employees.

“Our employee vaccination rate as of Sunday was at 82% and that went down to 30% overnight,” said Ren….

read … Boost-or-test mandate brings challenges to Maui businesses

Here’s How Affordable Housing Policies Have Impacted Hawai‘i’s Housing Supply

HB: … This report on affordable housing policies by county governments and state agencies provides different perspectives on what works and what doesn’t – and what might work better….

read … Here’s How Affordable Housing Policies Have Impacted Hawai‘i’s Housing Supply

Hawaii’s High Costs Leave Many Struggling To Get By

CB: … the challenges facing Hawaii’s disappearing middle class, including the political barriers that have long stymied improvement….

In the next decade or so, economists predict Hawaii will face a significant social and economic crisis, as the number of older retirees balloons and there aren’t enough working people paying taxes needed to support kupuna….

So how big will the gap be between federal aid and personal savings and what people need to live? By 2035, Mason predicts a $7 billion hole.

“It’s going to be very hard,” says Mason, who with co-author Michael Abrigo outlined Hawaii’s impending crisis in a paper titled “Hawaii’s Generational Economy.”…

Hawaii is hardly the only state with an aging population – Baby Boomers are getting older everywhere – but the Aloha State has special challenges: chiefly a high cost of living that stresses families, makes it impossible for many to save and forces people to leave.

Hawaii’s numbers are stark. The state’s high cost of living and relatively low-paying jobs means about one-third of families are living paycheck to paycheck and saving little or nothing for the future. These families are referred to as “asset limited, income constrained, employed,” or ALICE.

And another 9% are below the poverty level, according to the latest ALICE data from the Aloha United Way. That means 42% of residents are at the ALICE level or below, which places Hawaii 19th from the bottom among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the ALICE rankings….

Economists and others are keeping a wary eye on the situation and predict things are only going to get worse as the full effects of a worsening economy become clear. Federal bailout money has been propping people up, but Covid-relief aid like child tax credits and extra unemployment payments are coming to an end.

Some experts predict studies this year will show as many as 60% of Hawaii residents will be considered ALICE.

Things could be even worse if it weren’t for Hawaii’s spirits of aloha and ohana. According to another recent study by the national nonprofit Financial Health Network, about half the people in Hawaii — 47% according to a survey – survive by depending on friends and family for financial support. In addition, even before the pandemic, most people in Hawaii routinely tapped into their savings to get by — 73% in Hawaii versus 20% nationally….

read … Hawaii’s High Costs Leave Many Struggling To Get By

Hand in Your Pocket: Hu Honua Knows PUC Will Rule Against it--Goes Back to Supreme Court

IM: … The Consumer Advocate review HELCO`s production simulation and concluded last month “that 42% of Hu Honua generation replaces fossil fuel generation and 58% of Hu Honua generation replaces renewable energy generation.”

“The power supply cost analyses prepared by Hawaii Electric Light and the Consumer Advocate indicate that Hu Honua is projected to increase costs and revenue requirements for customers in the range of approximately 12% annually versus cases without Hu Honua.”…. 

HTH: Honua Ola takes fight against PUC back to high court

SA: Public Utilities Commission suspends hearing after bioenergy firm files appeal

SA: Big Island bioenergy firm appeals case to the Supreme Court again

read …  Hu Honua Kills Evidentiary Hearing Set for Monday

Five Hawaii County police officers fired in 2021

HTH: … Five Hawaii County police officers were fired and 21 others suspended without pay in 2021, according to the Hawaii Police Department’s annual disciplinary report to the state Legislature.

Two of the discharged officers were released for alleged violent crimes: one for sexual assault and the other for robbery, among other criminal acts. A third officer was fired for theft related to not complying with department policy for gasoline, oil and mileage records.

The case of the officer accused of sexual assault remains in arbitration while grievance actions are still pending in the other two cases. Prosecutors were notified in all three cases; criminal charges have been filed in one.

Meanwhile, a fourth officer was fired in 2021 for not complying with department policy for motor vehicle pursuit and use of force while a fifth officer was terminated for not being within policy for displaying a firearm. Grievance actions are still pending in each case. Prosecutors were not notified in either case.

The discharged officers had between two and 13 years tenure at the time of dismissal…

read … Five county police officers fired in 2021

Big Isle homeless count ongoing

HTH: … During Tuesday’s effort, they came across individual “C” who was living in the bushes. He was cleaning up his campsite as they approached. Thomas-Vandervoort knew the individual from previous encounters, so he was receptive to answering questions.

The man has been chronically homeless for 11 years. He indicated he was sleeping in the culvert under the highway but started feeling sick from all of the run-off. He said he is doing his best to keep his area in the bushes clean.

“Thank you for doing that. I’ll bring you some more trash bags so you can clean up some more,” Thomas-Vandervoot told him. She also told him she would be returning later in the week for a medical outreach.

Before leaving, Kamauoha Renaud left him a bag filled with food, hygiene items and a can opener with the promise of a follow-up visit.

Visits to other camps were not as fruitful with residents “not home,” but that did not deter their efforts as they will return later this week as the count continues.

Thomas-Vandervoort and Renaud later found a mother and four keiki ranging in age from 1 to 7 years old living in their car. They became homeless Sunday after a family dispute left them without shelter. The mother said her husband works full-time, but they were unable to secure housing because of the tight rental market, forcing them to sleep in the automobile.

She welcomed outreach services from HOPE Services, hoping to find a place they could call home. Renaud promised a return visit to initiate getting the family into their system.

Another group of three found living in their car indicated they were there by choice, and all employed.

“We are displaced by choice,” said the 50-year-old man who refused services….

On Tuesday, Linda Thomas-Vandervoort scanned aerial photographs taken earlier this month, trying to locate homeless encampments from the ground in order to complete this year’s survey, which is mandated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development….

read … Big Isle homeless count ongoing

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