9th Circuit Court Rejects Race-Based Voting in Northern Marianas Islands
Beachfront Property: Hawaii Supreme Court Considers Wipeout Regulatory Taking
107 Candidates Register for Neighborhood Board Elections
AARP Plans Hawaii Legislative Agenda
Hawaii Zika virus-infected mothers delivered babies with microcephaly as early as 2009
Downtown Café Serves Crooked Politicians -- but not Trump Voters
Plan to Destroy Hawaii Small Businesses and Jack up Consumer Prices with $22/hour Minimum Wage
HNN: Under a plan drafted by state Sen. Josh Green, the minimum wage would rise to $15 an hour by 2019, from $8.50 now….
Under Green's proposal, which is expected to encounter significant opposition from small business owners, pay would go up several dollars each year.
By 2022, the minimum wage would hit $22 an hour….
Under current Hawaii law, the minimum wage is set to go up again in 2018 -- to $10.10 an hour….
Big Q: What do you think of Hawaii’s increasing minimum wage, now at $9.25 per hour and set for $10.10 per hour next year?
PDF: Text of Bill
read … Lawmaker seeks big boost to Hawaii's minimum wage
Time for a State Board of Transportation?
ILind: …I’ve heard legislators attribute the poor performance of airport administrators to the relative autonomy of the transportation department’s budget, which primarily draws on funds restricted to airport use.
Perhaps its time for the legislature to create a Board of Transportation to provide some modicum of citizen oversight over the agency that charged with operating our airports, harbors, and highways.
Nothing unique here. Other major departments have their departmental boards. UH has the Board of Regents. DLNR has the Board of Land and Natural Resources. The Health Department has a Board of Health. Hawaiian Homes has the Hawaiian Homes Commission. These all provide, a minimum, a forum for public discussion of issues facing their departments, and a place where the public has an institutional voice. It’s not a new idea, although one likely to be opposed by administrators used to answering to no one.
An alternative would be to break it down by functions, with an Airports Commission, Harbors Commission, and Highway Commission.
read … Time for a State Board of Transportation?
Suit aims to ease crowding at Campbell
SA: …A response by the state Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the state Department of Education contends McDermott and his allies “simply have no legal basis to demand that the state provide with the school facilities and overall educational experience they deem acceptable.”
The state has asked that the case be dismissed, and that request is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before Circuit Judge Edwin C. Nacino.
McDermott said in an interview that he wants Gov. David Ige to spell out exactly when his administration will address overcrowding and other problems at Campbell.
McDermott contends in his lawsuit that the Campbell cafeteria was designed to accommodate 890 students, but there is only one lunch period when the entire student body is expected to eat. Most students now eat outside or in hallways, or skip lunch altogether, according to the suit.
The lawsuit also alleges the bathrooms at the school were designed for 1,400 students, and an “inadequate number” of portable toilets have been added to serve the larger student body. Those toilets are “woefully lacking to meet current health and safety standards for all of the Campbell HS students,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit also claims that classrooms at the school heat up to more than 90 degrees during a “good portion” of the school year. That has created “an oppressive and intolerable learning environment,” and state plans for heat abatement in the classrooms are “woefully inadequate” because they do not include air conditioning for each classroom, according to the suit….
Current student enrollment is 3,125….
read … Suit aims to ease crowding at Campbell
While Kihei High School Twists in the Wind, Kihei Charter School Breaks Ground on New Campus
MN: The nonprofit South Maui Learning Ohana will break ground Friday for a new building to house Kihei Charter School, which currently operates in three different locations. The 63,000-square-foot facility will include 30 classrooms, an auditorium, kitchen and commercial space for rent….
For years, the nonprofit South Maui Learning Ohana has held the leases for the three properties because the public charter school, as a state agency, “cannot incur long-term debt,” said Gene Zarro, chief executive officer of the South Maui Learning Ohana. The nonprofit hoped to place the school on one campus but didn’t have the property or the funding.
But around January 2013, the South Maui Learning Ohana was able to purchase a 2.75-acre plot in the Maui Research & Technology Park. Mike Hankal, the owner of the property, sold it to the nonprofit for about $800,000, well below its market value of more than $2 million.
“It’s a really beautiful corner lot,” Zarro said.
Then in September 2013, the nonprofit secured a $17.7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities program, which provides funding for “essential community facilities in rural areas,” according to its website. To qualify as a rural area, a community’s population must be less than 20,000.
“Kihei, as of the last census, grew out of the definition of rural,” Zarro said. “But our application was in the hopper so they allowed us to continue. . . . They bent over backwards (for us).”
The South Maui Learning Ohana also raised $1.4 million for the building. Because the public school, as a state agency, cannot own property, the nonprofit entity will own the building and the property and the charter school will pay rent to use it. The terms are still being worked out, Zarro said.
“Kihei Charter School will lease their facilities from South Maui Learning Ohana as a permanent home,” Zarro said.
The state pays public charter schools for every student they educate, which is then used to pay for operations and facilities, he said.
The facility will encompass 63,000 square feet, but the school will actually occupy about 58,000 square feet. The rest will be available for some “complementary” businesses, perhaps a doctor’s office or “a 9-to-5 kind of office” to help offset the cost, Zarro said.
The L-shaped building will include one three-story wing and a two-story wing, with a rooftop deck shaded with a canopy of photovoltaic panels from Haleakala Solar. The campus also will include about 110 parking stalls, Zarro said.
The South Maui Learning Ohana currently is renting about 30,000 square feet of space and 18 classrooms for the school. In the new facility, classrooms will be larger. The facility will be able to hold 700 students, and the school expects to hit full capacity when it opens.
Colson said the school may hire as many as 10 to 12 new teachers in the first year.
read … It sure is good to not be part of the DoE CIP
Kau Gym: Will Billy Kenoi’s Rush-Job Blow Down in Next Hurricane?
HTH: The county already paid Mitsunaga and Associates an additional $55,000 on top of its original $1 million design contract to “review hurricane shelter design criteria, review design of record for compliance of the hurricane shelter design criteria including structural calculations, site inspection and verification of the structure that is being constructed in compliance with design of record and meets the hurricane shelter criteria,” according to a June 1, 2015, change order….
“The contractor raised some concerns about the structural elements in the contract,” De Marco said.
The gym project, financed with $18.1 million from the state, has had $748,122 in change orders as of Nov. 30, according to county Finance Department reports.
The most recent included $229,424 to contractor Summit Construction Inc. for modifications to the floor because of excess moisture and $290,601 to Summit for modifications to windows and acceleration of installation. Overtime charges also were factored into those figures. The project was one of two known in the county where the county agreed to pay overtime to get the project finished more quickly.
The floor and windows of the building have long been problem areas.
Last year, the concrete flooring for the 21,069-square-foot gym portion of the 43,300-square-foot building had to be torn out at contractor’s expense and redone when it didn’t pass county inspection.
County officials denied there was anything wrong with the windows when asked about them prior to the public release of the recent change order.
But former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s frustration with delays escalated to the point that on Aug. 5, he called three Public Works engineers into his office and fired them on the spot, according to several sources within and closely aligned with county government who asked not to be identified because they feared retaliation.
The three employees were called back to work the following week, after being told no formal action was taken. Shortly after that incident, management of the project was transferred from Public Works to Parks and Recreation.
A grand opening of the gym was celebrated Oct. 5.
Mayor Harry Kim said he called a stop to contractor overtime when he took office at the beginning of the month…
read … Billy Kenoi Rush Job
9th Circuit, EPA Agree: Pesticide Buffer Zones are Unscientific
KE: …It's good to see that Dr. Lee Evslin generally supports the state's thoughtful approach to dealing with fears about agricultural pesticide exposure that he helped foment.
But Evslin quickly exposes his ignorance, and his bias, when he asserts:
The new good neighbor policy will call for 100-foot buffers but that is not enough for vulnerable places like schools. California is moving toward quarter-mile buffers around its schools. This issue will come up again in this year’s state legislative session.
It is now very clear that in Hawaii, these rules legally are the responsibility of the state (not the county) and the state needs to do what is right. California has led the country in examining the science behind buffer zones and we need to follow their lead.
Actually, California's proposal to ban crop dusting and many other forms of pesticide spraying within a quarter of a mile of schools and child day-care centers during daylight hours has been criticized precisely because it isn't based in science.
Yeah, it's political, arbitrary and driven by some the same self-serving activist groups, like Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), that are pushing similar measures in Hawaii. Except they want a one-mile buffer zone.
If Evslin had taken even 15 minutes to research this issue, he would have found that California's proposal followed an appeals court ruling. The judges found that the EPA acted correctly in refusing to institute uniform buffer zones for all pesticides that are registered for application by ground sprayers, broadcast, or aerial application, and that may cause certain human health effects.
The EPA had rejected PANNA's request for across-the-board buffer zones as unscientific and inefficient and likely to result in a misallocation of EPA resources…..
read … Musings: Real and Imagined Dangers
Broken Trust: 20 Years Later Kam Schools Struggles to Make use of Larry Mehau’s Eucalyptus Trees
SA: Kamehameha Schools is seeking a new tenant for 10,000 acres of former sugar lands that are planted in eucalyptus along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii island after a company that had been logging those lands opted to surrender the lease.
LHF Lopiwa LLC, which holds the current eucalyptus plantation lease, has harvested trees on 2,000 to 3,000 acres and had been shipping logs out of Kawaihae Harbor to buyers in China.
Kamehameha Schools officials said they were notified recently Lopiwa would not exercise an option to extend its lease when it expires Saturday.
read … 20 years later
Bait n Switch: MECO Tricks ‘Time of Use’ Rate Payers
MN: …The letters from MECO welcoming those customers who have opted into the program listed rate schedules that were higher than publicized in its October announcement of the time-of-use program.
The letter listed Maui rates of 19.9 cents per kilowatt hour for midday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), 45.1 cents for peak use (5 to 10 p.m.) and 38.7 cents for off peak (10 p.m. to 9 a.m.). The October news release listed Maui rates at 13.7 cents per kWh at midday, 39 cents at peak use and 32.5 cents at off peak — about 6.2 cents lower per period.
The complicated reason for the differences is that apples are being compared with oranges, or base rates vs. base rates with “surcharges.” In actuality, the December bills for time-of-use ratepayers will be lower than the base rates appearing in the letters and the October rates in the news release and on the utility website, explained Shayna Decker, director of communications for MECO.
The higher rates noted in the letter are base charges and exclude “surcharges,” such as the variable rate of fuel costs.
read … This was all an accident. Really.
Hawaii achieves 25% clean energy in 2016, report claims
PBN: The 91-page state of Hawaii Energy Resources Coordinator’s Annual Report for 2016 noted that there are 65 renewable energy projects across the state, having the capacity to generate an estimated 156.1 million kilowatt-hours per month, which is enough to power about 314,689 homes for the next two decades.
A majority of the projects come from solar and hydroelectric projects, with wind, biofuel, biomass, geothermal, ocean and waste-to-energy also in the mix….
Another highlight in the report is the effort that’s gaining traction to reduce petroleum use in the transportation sector, especially with the popularity of electric vehicles. By the end of the year, there will be more than 5,000 EVs registered in Hawaii, a 26 percent increase during the same period a year earlier.
The state's governments also gained some traction in energy efficiency. To date, state and local government agencies have signed a total of more than $442.4 million in performance contracts that will save an estimated $1.1 billion during the lifetime of those contracts. These savings are the equivalent to powering 368,426 homes for one year. The projects include more than 96 million-square-feet of space in 225 buildings or facilities. Additionally, a total of 69 buildings have become Energy Star-certified, which encompassed 9.6 million-square-feet of space in public and private buildings with an energy savings equivalent to $23 million a year.
read … Hawaii achieves 25% clean energy in 2016, report says
Soft on Crime: Alleged Ala Moana Shooter Catch and Release
KHON: …The suspect, Dae Han Moon, was arrested and released earlier this month following a separate run-in with police.
On Dec. 5, a police officer responded to an incident on Kaheka Street which led to a chase that ended at the Saints Peter and Paul Church near the Don Quijote parking lot.
Police say the driver, Moon, almost ran over a security guard before hitting a police vehicle and a rock wall. They found a weapon in the driver’s seat.
Sources say Moon is known to carry firearms and or bladed weapons on him or in his car.
Moon was arrested and charged for that incident for carrying a gun and auto theft.
According to court documents, Moon wasn’t supposed to be carrying a firearm. He posted $30,000 bail on Dec. 7, and on Dec. 19 ….
read … Soft on Crime