Video: OHA Trustees Vote to Fire Crabbe--$450K Golden Parachute
Nai Aupuni Biggest Failure of 2016, Will be Dead January 20
Harbors wharfage rates to rise 34.5% in 2017
Education Week: Hawaii Grade ‘C’, Ranks 25th
Sewage: New Year Begins With Yet Another Caldwell Spill
2015 Traffic Accident Map of Honolulu
Bedbugs: Honolulu Crawls up to 48th in USA
Menor-Caldwell Plan: Sweep Rail Problems under Rug Until Tax Hike is Approved
CB: Although they spoke two hours apart and in separate locations, the mayor of Honolulu and the new chairman of the City Council seemed at times to be reading from similar scripts….
What is uniting Menor and Caldwell — and, for now at least, the eight other Council members, who voted unanimously Tuesday to replace Ernie Martin as chairman — is the need to show unity before the Legislature.
(Translation: Everything will be swept under the rug until the Legislature votes for the tax hike.)
The Federal Transit Administration has given the city and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation until the end of April to come up with a financing scheme. If not, the FTA may yank $1.55 billion in funding for the project.
The end of April is also when the Legislature will be in the final deliberations of its 2017 session, which concludes in early May.
In short, time is running out….
It will be a tall order to convince the Legislature to extend Oahu’s general excise tax surcharge of 0.5 percent beyond its 2027 sunset date.
Leaders of the House and Senate money committees have already voiced skepticism, based on all the cost overruns and delays to date. The rail line was originally slated to cost $5.2 billion.
They are also reluctant to grant the city’s wish to provide it with the 10 percent of the surcharge revenue that the state has been keeping for its own needs….
CNN: House Transportation chair: No infrastructure package in first 100 days
SA: Mayor and Menor to focus on rail
read … Grease
Caldwell Claims ‘Tourists’ will pay for Rail (again)
HNN: "The state is going to be asked to extend the surcharge. I know its unpopular but with visitor industry hitting an all-time high in terms of visitor arrivals, with the thriving of this industry and to say lets find another revenue source, where more of it is based on the residents of this island or this state, is not the proper way to go when we can get it from our visitors," the mayor said….
During his speech, the mayor didn't dig into any other big issues facing the city, such as homelessness or affordable housing.
That surprised some onlookers.
"I was expecting to hear more of the issues regarding homelessness which is another priority for the county," said former City Council Chairman Ernie Martin said. "I think the mayor focused on probably what's going to be the biggest issue coming up in the next few months -- rail."
Reality: GE Tax: Audit Shows Tourists pay only 14.1% of Rail Surcharge
read … Hold on to your wallet
City Prosecutor Under Corruption Probe Will Run Criminal Intel Unit
CB: Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro announced this week that Katherine Kealoha, who is the subject of an ongoing public corruption investigation, will be part of a new initiative that aims to crack down on criminals who target tourists.
Kealoha, who is married to Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, is involved in a convoluted alleged conspiracy that includes allegations that she attempted to settle a family score over money by framing her uncle for stealing her mailbox.
One retired police officer has already pleaded guilty to felony charges in the case. Court records indicate that Katherine Kealoha is a co-conspirator in the mailbox theft case….
He said that deputy prosecutor Janice Futa will be in charge of the new initiative to go after criminals who target tourists. As part of the tourist unit, Katherine Kealoha will be tasked with supervising a new “intelligence-based prosecution strategy” that will use the data to prosecute the major criminals in each district of the island.
Futa is the deputy prosecutor who handled the two murder trials of Christopher Deedy….
The New York Times Magazine has described intelligence-based prosecution as the “‘Moneyball’ Approach to Crime’ ….
This shift in focus has allowed other jurisdictions around the country to target their resources on repeat offenders and others, such as gang members, who might be involved in more serious crimes that are harder to prove….
read … Another Day in the Nei
Kealoha Corruption: "This is the beginning of the stench"
HNN: The Honolulu Police Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss the future of Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who has been on paid leave since receiving a "target letter" from the FBI last month.
The target letter notified him that he is being investigated as part of a federal public corruption case.
Kealoha is not expected to be at the commission meeting, and it's not entirely clear what the members will decide to do.
Attorney Michael Green, who represents a police detective with ties to the Kealoha case, said this is unlike any public corruption investigation he has seen before.
"This whole thing is going to stink and this is the beginning of the stench," Green said. "These are not good times. I think 2017 is going to start out in a very ugly way."
Green believes the seven-member police commission will be divided on what to do about the Kealoha….
Multiple other HPD officers have also received target letters, and all have been reassigned to desk duty. Officer Bobby Nguyen and Major Gordon Shiraishi are in the technology unit. Danny Sellers has been sent to the criminal receiving desk. And Lieutenant Derek Hahn is on stress-related medical leave.
Former HPD officer Niall Silva has already pleaded guilty in connection with the case and will testify against the others….
CB: Police Commission: HPD Chief’s Future Will Be Discussed In Secret
read … Again
Goodman thinks Kaiser takeover of Maui’s hospitals could save lives
MN: A national leader of health savings accounts and health policy will discuss better options for the state health care system and the public-private partnership involving the county’s three public hospitals at a lecture Jan. 11 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
John C. Goodman of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research will be appearing at the luncheon, organized by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii….
His lecture runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Alexa Higashi Meeting Room. There is a $20 fee. Register online at www.grassrootinstitute.org or call (808) 591-9193.
Oahu Jan 10: Obamacare Repeal: How Will it Affect Hawaii?
read … Save Lives
HPD on fireworks enforcement: 92 citations issued, investigation leads to 7 arrests
KHON: At a press conference Monday afternoon, central patrol assistant chief Alan Bluemke said the department issued 92 citations for various fireworks violations, and made seven felony arrests in an investigation that stemmed from a shipment of illegal fireworks out of Washington state….
In addition to citations and arrests, authorities also seized an estimated 9,700 pounds of aerial fireworks and 230 pieces of other retail-grade fireworks between Dec. 1, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2017….
read … Fireworks
Counties submit wish list to Legislature; Hotel tax, lifeguard protection, ambulance, collective bargaining top wants
HTH: A larger county share of the tax on hotel and vacation rentals, liability protection for lifeguards, ambulances for Hawaii and Kauai counties and a greater say in union negotiations are the top priorities for county governments going into the 2017 session of the state Legislature.
Representatives of the four county councils, meeting as the Hawaii State Association of Counties, last month prioritized a package of 10 bills proposed by individual counties and agreed upon by each county council. HSAC leaders plan to meet with top state decision-makers just prior to the Jan. 18 start of the new legislative session.
Other bills in the package protect personal privacy from drones, weaken Sunshine Law provisions for county councils, provide money for counties to map important agricultural lands, allow people to identify their disabilities on their driver’s licenses and give counties a share of traffic fines in uncontested cases….
The full text of the bills can be accessed at the HSAC website at http://hicounties.com/our-work/.
read … Wish List
Unlike other pricey cities, Honolulu rents continue to rise
HNN: The median rent for a one-bedroom in Honolulu is now $1,750, the 11-highest among cities across the nation, according to a new report.
That's up about 2.9 percent from a year ago.
Meanwhile, two-bedroom rents hit $2,390, up 7.2 percent from January 2016.
read … Rent High
Don’t Talk About How Crazy the Homeless Are
CB: The Hawaii Kai homeless map, by describing a homeless person as a “mentally ill man” that “frequently yells at people,” reinforces the painful stereotypes of people dealing with mental health issues….
…we pushed for and passed the assisted community treatment law, which allows parties to petition Family Court to provide outpatient mental health treatment for people seriously impaired and who may not recognize they need assistance.
It was a bill aimed at providing assistance while maintaining the rights, dignity and privacy of the patient. When the law is finally implemented, it will help create a framework of assistance for our most vulnerable….
read … Politically Correct Censorship
The famous hair sample pesticide test: The enemy is us (Anti-GMO Lies Busted #1)
RI: The most persistent memes of the anti-farming, anti-pesticide, anti-GMO movement of the past four years have been the suggestions of “proofs” that Kauai farmers are exposing their neighbors to dangerous levels of pesticides.
And one after another of those proofs has proven false, or at least misleading.
One of the most misleading was a report that children were being contaminated by agricultural pesticides—detected in hair samples.
It turns out that nobody really analyzed those hair sample tests, and if they had, they’d find most of the contamination is from consumer and residential, not agricultural, pesticides….
KE: Musings: A Hair-Raising Tale
read … The famous hair sample pesticide test: The enemy is us
Reporting of Maui sunshine law complaint criticized (Anti-GMO Lies Busted #2)
ILind: A blog post by Kauai journalist Joan Conrow took the Garden Island newspaper to task for apparently basing a story on a Maui sunshine law complaint solely on a press release from the authors of the complaint.
The complaint was filed with the Office of Information Practices by the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), headed by former Kauai county council member Gary Hooser.
HAPA alleged “egregious violations” of the sunshine law by Maui County Council Chair Mike White.
According to the Garden Island:
After Election Day, on Nov. 9, documents show that White met, either in person or via phone or electronic means, with multiple members of the Maui County Council, discussed the council organization and came to a decision that involved agreement by a quorum — all without public notice and without a public meeting being held.
Conrow points out that the one-sided Garden Island story contrasted with a report in the Maui News, which included comments from White and reference to prior OIP rulings.
From the Maui News:
White countered in an email to The Maui News that an opinion letter published by OIP on Nov. 14, 2002, confirmed that incoming council members are not subject to the state Sunshine Law until taking office. He added that the complaint filed by HAPA is “highly political and unsubstantiated.
“This is the same political organization that trained many of the ‘Ohana Coalition candidates, including my opponent, that ran against sitting members in the last election,” White said. “This organization and their supporters are using fear tactics and intimidation to try and get their way.”
Click here to read a summary of the 2002 OIP opinion, or the opinion’s full text.
The opinion confirmed White’s view that new council members are not subject to the law until they take office. In addition, the opinion notes a provision allowing limited private discussions about the selection of officers.
read … Reporting of Maui sunshine law complaint criticized
Anti-GMO Clown Show Wastes 13 Hours in Maui Council
MN: It took 13 1/2 hours, 75 testifiers, five failed nominations and two hourlong executive sessions for the Maui County Council to settle its leadership and staffing matters.
And a public hearing on committees is still to come.
When the dust settled just past 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Council Member Mike White had returned as chairman, frustrating many residents who said he had violated ethics laws by announcing his claim to the position before members took a formal vote.
White won back his chairmanship in a 5-4 vote, after several 5-4 votes defeated nominations of other members. Council Member Bob Carroll was elected vice chairman, while Council Member Stacy Crivello was chosen as presiding officer pro tempore.
“I’ve never experienced a first council meeting this way ever,” Council Member Elle Cochran said (she organized this circus). “I think it didn’t need to turn this way, if the past council chair (White) hadn’t done that press release. I think that triggered it all because it sent that message or that perception that some vote was called (beforehand).”
Council Members White, Carroll, Crivello, Riki Hokama and Yuki Lei Sugimura voted in favor of White, while Council Members Cochran, Don Guzman, Alika Atay and Kelly King voted against him, which was the way the votes were split almost all evening.
Opponents said that White stepped out of line by trying to secure votes early on and leaving out incoming members. But as White and others have said, organizing council leadership ahead of time follows current laws and is not much different from what past councils have done….
read … Mike White goes the distance in marathon council leadership vote
Protesters: The Telescope is making us Mentally Ill
HTH: Nearly two years have passed since protesters were arrested while blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
But Mehana Kihoi said Tuesday during the project’s contested case hearing that the wounds remain.
With her daughter standing by her side, she questioned TMT project manager Gary Sanders, who was testifying, about those arrests and at times accused him of being responsible for the pain she said they caused.
Kihoi was among several dozen protesters, who say they were protecting a sacred mountain, arrested in 2015 while blocking vehicles on the Mauna Kea Access Road. Protests in October 2014 also halted the project’s groundbreaking.
“She witnessed me being handcuffed in an area we consider to be sacred while I am in prayer,” Kihoi said, referring to her daughter. She asked what the project, which includes educational support for Native Hawaiians and other Hawaii Island students, does for those who were “mentally, physically and spiritually” harmed….
Kihoi, who joined the quasi-judicial hearing as a party last year, described the events as being emotionally traumatic.
“How does it make you feel that you were responsible for creating irreparable and irreversible emotional, mental and spiritual harm against our Native Hawaiian and non-native Hawaiian community?” she asked Sanders.
That prompted another objection, which was sustained….
Video: Project Manager Gary Sanders Takes Stand
read … Delaying Tactic
Albizia Burner First to Snag ‘Closed Loop’ Tax Credit
IM: …The Green Energy Team (GET) was founded on Kauai to develop a biomass-to-energy project.
The blessing was held on April 5, 2016. Governor David Ige remarked, “In addition to producing energy, we have found a use for albizia, described as an invasive species, the scourge of the islands during the last Hurricane.”
Eric Knutzen of Green Energy Hawai`i, asserted, “It’s been about 12 years since we first talked about this. It’s been a long road, but it’s operating, now — producing on an average of 12.4 percent of Kauai’s energy needs being provided through Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.” “This plant is sustainable, renewable, and independent of local and foreign oil supply,” according to KIUC`s Jim Kelly.
Green Energy is the first closed-loop biomass power plant in the U.S. A closed-loop biomass power plant is one in which the feedstock is grown specifically for the purpose of power generation. A full Production Tax Credit has been available for closed-loop biomass power plants since passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service gave a $72.9 million loan guarantee to build a $90 million state-of-the-art facility to burn woodchips.
Kauai`s Garden Island newspaper wrote several articles on the Green Energy facility. Last year they reported, “In addition to contracts to clear invasive albizia trees from several locations around the island, GET is in negotiations with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to purchase up to 15,000 tons of eucalyptus and pine trees that were scorched in Kokee during fires in the summer of 2012. Those trees are being cut down and removed as part of a major reforestation project on 700 acres of forest reserve land.”
Albizia work is dangerous. Last January a worker for the Green Energy Team biomass project was killed when the branch fell on him….
read … Burning Money to Produce Electricity
What a long strange trip its been for Proposed Kahuku Wind Generation Facility
IM: West Wind Works LLC proposed a wind farm in Kahuku in 2006. HECO signed an agreement with another wind company, the other facility was approved and built (pictured above), and the battery caught fire, and burned down.
West Wind Works LLC sold their rights to Champlin Hawaii Wind Holdings. The project is called Na Pua Makani. The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission announced a hearing for 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at the Kahuku High School.
Last month the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) granted a contested case proceeding regarding the Incidental Take License (ITL) and the Final Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)….
Na Pua Makani wants an incidental take permit to kill some of the endangered and threatened species.
The state permits would allow the wind facility to accidently kill `a`o (Newell's shearwater), ae`o (Hawaiian stilt), `alae ke`oke`o (Hawaiian Coot), `alae `ula (Hawaiian moorhen), koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck), nene (Hawaiian Goose), pueo (Hawaiian owl), and the `ope`ape`a (Hawaiian hoary bat)….
read … What a long strange trip its been for Proposed Kahuku Wind Generation Facility
Soft on Crime: 17 Priors Out on Street Does it Again
SA: …At about 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 2, police said Cross walked up to the victim, 54, who was sitting inside his truck with the window open and punched him. Police responded and arrested Cross for the offense and criminal contempt of court.
Police said it’s unknown what led Cross to assault the 54-year-old man.
Cross, also known as Butch Cross, has a criminal record of 17 convictions that include assault, disorderly conduct, criminal contempt of court, driving without a license, criminal property damage and violating park rules….
read … Soft on Crime