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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:38 PM :: 1073 Views

Auditor: Maui Building Permits Delayed for Months in Spite of 30-Day Mandate

Study: 67% of Hawaii 'Work-from-Home' Employees Drinking on the Job

Report: Hawaii County tops in nation in construction hurdles

HTH: … Hawaii’s median home value is the highest in the nation, followed by California and Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey cited in the UHERO article.

“One possible explanation for at least part of that exorbitant home prices is regulation,” Bonham said. “Anything that drives up the cost or delays production of housing, anything that makes it more difficult for a builder or developer to provide new housing, has the potential to restrict supply, reduce the number of houses that are available and raise the price of housing.”…

(NOTE: Because Hawaii County, unlike Maui, Kauai, and Oahu, has thousands of low cost undeveloped lots in its subdivisions, it must rely more on restrictive building codes in order to artificially restrict the supply of housing and jack up prices on behalf of legacy landowners and their pet developers.  This is the purpose of ALL land use policy in Hawaii.)

read … Report: Hawaii County tops in nation in construction hurdles

Local government complaints office is dealt more work abuse amid pandemic

SA: … Robin Matsunaga, who has led the office for 24 years as Hawaii’s longest-­serving ombudsperson, said the increased workload over the past two years has been handled pretty effectively, though it’s been trying because of the troubling rise in uncivil behavior from some complainants.

“We’re not the enemy,” he said. “We’re not the agency being complained about. We are a complaints office.”

In testimony to the Legislature in February seeking to restore the office’s annual budget to $1.4 million for the next fiscal year after an 8% cut in the current fiscal year, Matsunaga said some complainants have verbally abused and even threatened staff.

“Complainants have been more frustrated with government than ever before, and this frustration has manifested itself in the form of more inappropriate, hostile, and sometimes threatening communications with our office,” he said in written testimony.

Most of the spike in complaints over the past two years has been directed at the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which had immense difficulty processing an unprecedented flood of unemployment claims triggered by COVID- 19 mitigation efforts.

Some additional complaint volume also was directed at the state Department of Public Safety, which struggled badly to keep its prison and jail population safe from COVID-19.

For much of the office’s history, complaints directed at DPS have represented roughly 50% to 60% of all complaints within the office’s jurisdiction….

read … Local government complaints office is dealt more work abuse amid pandemic

Oahu violent crime at 3-year high, Honolulu Police Department report finds

SA: … Homicides, robberies, assaults and rape cases on Oahu are at three-year highs, according to 2022 Honolulu Police Department counts through April, elevating concern among police and federal law enforcement officials using data and crime prevention tactics to contend with threats to public safety.

Thirteen homicides — eight committed with a firearm — occurred during the first four months of this year, compared with six in that time frame in 2021. There were eight in 2020 and three in 2019….

“Comparing today’s crime rates to three years ago, prior to the pandemic, paints a scary picture,” Cavaco said, adding that while the department is “talking about specialized enforcement and targeted patrol,” what’s not pointed out is “how police administration has had to pull officers from all other functions to try and quell the crime as it flares up.”

Cavaco said with more than 190 officers eligible to retire, “we need action now to retain our officers and recruit new officers. The delay and thumb-twiddling are making us less safe every day.”

Regarding robbery cases spanning the four-month period: HPD tallied 325 cases this year, compared with 284 in 2021, 221 in 2020 and 306 in 2019. There were 410 assaults through April this year, compared with 347 in 2021, 317 in 2020 and 382 in 2019. Police have made 90 rape arrests this year, compared with 64 in 2021, 88 in 2020 and 93 in 2019….

“The prosecutor’s office, the police, the courts, and the lawmakers must get on the same page. We can’t have criminals getting off for crimes they committed simply because the court system is backed up or they didn’t get charged in time. When there are no consequences for bad behavior, that only encourages more bad behavior, more lawlessness — and law-abiding citizens start to believe there is no justice,” said Tulba.

Council member Calvin Say, also a member of the Public Safety Committee, told the Star-Advertiser that he views an increasing homeless population and rising costs of living in Hawaii as major factors in why violent crime is on the rise.

“There seems to be an overall sense of paranoia of individuals who are unstable due to substance abuse and/or mental illness. My office receives daily reports and complaints from constituents related to these concerns,” said Say….

KHON: Official warns of dangerous fentanyl-meth mixture

read … Oahu violent crime at 3-year high, Honolulu Police Department report finds

Could a 3-day week help ease HPD’s staffing shortages? It’s working so far

HNN: … On April 3, officers in two districts started working three, 12-hour days per week as part of a test to see if it could ease shortages in patrol.

Prior to that, some shifts reported less than 50% staffing.

The program is happening in two of the eight HPD districts: District 4, which spans the windward side, and district 5, which covers Kalihi.

“On some days, it’s 90% staffing or more,” said HPD Capt. Parker Bode.

The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers calls it successful so far, too.

Dustin DeRollo, spokesperson for SHOPO, said every watch in the pilot is seeing an increase. “A huge, immediate step to addressing those police beats that were going unfilled earlier this year,” he said….

read … Could a 3-day week help ease HPD’s staffing shortages? It’s working so far

Another drug dealer linked to Miske group pleads guilty

ILind: … Nicholas Carignan pleaded guilty on Friday to a single count of drug possession with intent to distribute. The plea came during a hearing before Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield. Carignan had been arrested in December 2019 when he arrived at the location of a planned drug sale with two pounds of methamphetamine in two ziplock-style bags. The buy had been arranged in a phone call from someone he had sold to previously, but was now cooperating with federal investigators.

Carignan, 34, faces a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence when he is eventually sentenced, followed by at least five years of supervised release….

Carignan becomes at least the seventh person linked to Miske’s network to plead guilty and agree to cooperate with prosecutors after being charged separately from the Miske defendants. In addition, five of Miske’s original ten co-defendants have also flipped and agreed to testify against their former associates….

read … Another drug dealer linked to Miske group pleads guilty

Three years later, report on Maui jail riot still not released

KHON: … More than three years after a riot that caused millions of dollars in damage, the Maui Community Correctional Center is set to undergo major repairs. But a final report on the incident has yet to be released to the public.

Officials said the riot that occurred in March 2019 caused more than $5 million in damage inside the Maui jail. Emergency repairs have been done since then, but the state has just put out a bid to make more major repairs to the facility.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety (PSD) said the plan is to put in long-term security upgrades like, “Modernizing locking mechanisms, upgrades to the security electronic systems, and other operational security solutions.”

But a full report on what happened and what can be done to prevent it has yet to be released….

(CLUE: The report might reveal what is wrong with the jail security systems.)

read … Three years later, report on Maui jail riot still not released

Recipients reaching limits on assistance from Honolulu rent and utility program

SA: … Honolulu Hale’s efforts to distribute upward of $225 million in pandemic- related federal funding through its Rental and Utility Relief Program have been underway for over a year — and recipients are now beginning to hit set limits for financial assistance.

Eligible households can receive up to $2,500 monthly in relief funds and stay enrolled in the program for up to 18 months. So far, the city has reported that about 500 households have reached the cutoff point.

The city contracts with Catholic Charities Hawaii and the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement to process applications and administer funds to landlords….

Sheck said CNHA typically wraps up distribution within about a month. Meanwhile, she noted that among her clients referred to Catholic Charities, there are cases in which clients have been waiting for rental relief since February. The longer wait is due in part to Catholic Charities conducting its own pre-screening of applicants.

Jillian Okamoto, division administrator of Catholic Charities’ housing and homelessness programs, said delays are often tied to applicants missing email, phone calls or changing contact information. Payments are usually made in three- or six-month increments. Therefore, recipients need to update applications every three or six months with CNHA or Catholic Charities to continue receiving funds….

read … Recipients reaching limits on assistance from Honolulu rent and utility program

Supreme Court Orders Judge To Revisit Sealed Case Dispute

CB: … Hawaii’s Supreme Court denied a request from a public interest attorney who had asked the court to prohibit Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Gary Chang from sealing a civil court case and imposing a gag order on the attorney preventing him from talking about the case.

Now the matter is going back to Chang’s courtroom with a stern order for Chang to follow the law. Although Chang didn’t dispute allegations that he failed to follow the recently adopted law concerning court records when he sealed the case in 2005, the high court essentially gave Chang another chance to get things right….

read … Supreme Court Orders Judge To Revisit Sealed Case Dispute

Hawaii Bureaucracy, Hemp Farmers Bankruptcy

CB: … Pioneers of Hawaii’s latent hemp industry are selling off land, laying off staff and no longer planting after years of waiting for the state to ease regulations that they consider overly restrictive and expensive.

The resignation hemp farmers feel comes after years of investment and soliciting funders on a premise that the state would ease its rules and ensure Hawaii would have the lucrative hemp market it had been anticipating since 1999.

But farmers say the last minute gutting of Senate Bill 2986, which would have eased state regulation of the crop, during the latest legislative session is a death knell for the early adopters as they struggle to access Hawaii’s hemp market, valued at up to $54 million. And now, the proposed permanent rules that the bill would have erased face a June 30 deadline, which means yet another year of over-regulation, the farmers say.

SB 2986 would have addressed several issues hemp farmers say they face: access to the local market through processing and online sales, easing three-day notice periods for crop transport, testing and inspection. The bill in its final form would ensure hemp remains legal in Hawaii until 2025, but did not address state regulations….

read … Hemp Farmers Are Fed Up With Government Regulations Hampering The Industry’s Potential

Legislative Agenda: 

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