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Friday, December 15, 2017
December 15, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:28 PM :: 2962 Views

Full Text--Hawaii Supreme Court Rules 3-2: Anybody Can Now Sue Anybody for Dirtying the Environment

200 High School Students Watch Supreme Court Hear Lesbian Child Custody Case

Child Molester: KSBE Apology letter implies abuse since 1962

One Down—44 to go

Congress Approves Renewed Palau COFA Agreement

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Releases Hawaii Election Data Interactive 

Nominations Open for KIUC Elections

UHERO: Hawaii’s Long Expansion Gets Global Economic Lift

HART Payoff to Kakaako Developer—$10M is not Enough

SA: …With construction of the city’s rail project working its way from West Oahu into urban Honolulu, rail officials say they may need to condemn portions of more than two dozen private properties from Iwilei through Kakaako to make way for the elevated transit system.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board took an initial step in that direction Thursday. The board authorized HART to seek approval from the City Council to acquire parts of 26 privately owned urban parcels by eminent domain if needed….

Sixteen of the 26 parcels are owned by Ward Village developer Howard Hughes Corp., which is opposed to the eminent domain action. HART has offered the Hughes Corp. $10 million for easements on the 16 parcels.

That offer is more than two years old and based on an appraisal that’s nearly three years old, said Mark Murakami, attorney for Hughes Corp. “We’re entitled to be compensated for the value of what’s being taken,” Murakami said. 

(No discussion of public-private partnership here, eh?)

HART board member Ember Shinn said, “We would hope Howard Hughes, who is a very big player in Kakaako and very well respected, would cooperate with us in this process rather than being an impediment.”…

Robbins said to date HART has received City Council approval to proceed with eminent domain actions on 60 parcels along the rail route. Of those, only eight condemnation cases were filed in court to seek possession….

HART is seeking easements amounting to more than 90,000 square feet, or just over 2 acres, on parcels in Kakaako owned by Hughes Corp. along Halekauwila Street, Ward Avenue and Queen Street. The largest is for the planned Kakaako rail station, which would sit on a portion of a lot on Ward Avenue that used to house a Sports Authority.

When asked by HART board member Shinn if Hughes Corp. objects to any particular lands being sought for acquisition, Murakami, the Hughes Corp. attorney, said, “I think my client opposes all of these.”

(HART has already given us the milk so why would we buy the cow?)

“An easement taking on all of these parcels (does) lower the value,” he said. “Are there workarounds? Sure. Are there trade-offs? Sure. But these plans have changed dynamically several times and we have big buildings going up, and operating shopping centers with impacts.” ….

Fake: Consultant to Explore Partnerships for Rail’s Final Stretch

read … As rail heads downtown, land deals get tougher

DOT Projects Prove Real Traffic Relief Comes from New Lanes

KITV: …West bound commuters can expect a smoother drive on the H1 freeway through Halawa after crews complete an additional lane come January. So two lanes now will turn into three.

Work to grade, reconstruct and relocate guardrails will wrap up by the end of the year.

In Nanakuli, the current contraflow is expected to improve for drivers heading town bound in the afternoons.

The addition of a turning lane at Nanakuli and Haleakala Avenue will make way for a second eastbound lane come February.

DOT says the addition will give drivers some flexibility in the afternoon. …

DOT encourages the public to head over to its website for a full list of projects underway or those that are set to kick off in the new year. Click here for more information….

read …. Real Traffic Relief

Local ISPs: Net Neutrality is a Fake Issue

HNN: …Su Shin, Hawaiian Telcom's executive director of marketing and communications, said their internet subscribers don't need to worry.

"Hawaiian Telcom does not throttle or block internet traffic and have no paid prioritization practices. This will remain our practice," she said.

A statement from Charter Communications and Spectrum said the company has a "longstanding commitment to an open internet."

"We want our customers to use and value our broadband service by accessing the content of their choice," the statement read. … 

read … Not an Issue

Your Hawaii hotel bill will go up in 2018, thanks to a new tax increase

LAT: Hawaii visitors can expect to shell out a little bit more money for their hotel rooms in 2018. On Jan. 1, the Transient Accommodations Tax will increase 1%.

While the tax hike will affect tourists statewide, money raised from the increase will be used exclusively to fund a new light rail project on Oahu….

The increase will bring the total tourist tax to 10.25%. Coupled with a 4% sales tax, that bumps a $1,000 hotel room charge to $1,142.50. The tax applies to all rental properties in Hawaii, including hotels, condos and B&Bs…..

Hawaii ranks third highest among the 50 states in taxes in taxes on lodging. An August 2017 report by HVS, a hospitality services company, placed Hawaii (13.25%) behind Maine (14.5%) and Connecticut (15%) for highest lodging taxes….

read … Your Hawaii hotel bill will go up in 2018, thanks to a new tax increase

Friends of Harry Kim Score Fat Juicy Professional Service Contracts

HTH: …Former county Councilman and state legislator Andrew Levin, who served as executive director for eight years during Kim’s prior administration, will be paid $40,000 for the four months encompassing the regular legislative session that runs Jan. 17 to May 3.

Levin previously had a $16,000-per-month contract through April 21 as a legislative assistant….

Kim’s use of the short-term contracts is allowed under state law. But it didn’t sit well with the County Council, especially when Kim early in his term used the contracts to hire former employees he acknowledged were old friends.

In response, the council unanimously approved a bill requiring HR to inform the council about any nonemergency employment contracts of fewer than 90 days if they’re $2,500 a month or more. Kim signed the bill.

In addition, the council is to receive quarterly reports detailing “the name and the qualifications of the temporary employee, the cost of the contract, the service to be performed and an explanation of why existing county personnel is unable to provide that service,” according to the new law….

read … Former Kim aide back on contract to help during legislative session

Honolulu Police Department reviews body camera pilot program

KHON: …Now that the pilot program is done — will it be rolled out permanently?

For 30 days, officers in China Town, Ala Moana, and Downtown experienced first hand what it’s like to have a camera strapped to their chest each time they respond to a call for service….

HPD says the body cam trial period was a success. “The pilot program actually went really well, any new technology we’re going to be dealing with issues and trying to figure things out but it wasn’t anything that was insurmountable and then we can’t overcome.”

Now that HPD has a taste of life with body cameras, the next step is deciding if the program will be rolled out department wide. “The rollout would be done in a phased approach also factors like cost and training need to be looked at. We need to make sure officers are properly trained before we start using them on the road.”…

As for what was caught on video during the 30 days, Vanic says a police vehicle was hit during a routine stop on the freeway, and it was all caught on camera. “And it just so happened that it was at the location of where there was a cover officers vehicle that was parked to provide not only the motorist but themselves with cover. It was pretty cool to see that on video, so that’s just one incident that the body camera video kind of showed exactly what went on.”

read … Honolulu Police Department reviews body camera pilot program

Deedy to appeal court decision to allow third trial in fatal shooting

SA: The city prosecutor’s office plans to try State Department federal agent Christopher Deedy a third time in the shooting death of Kollin Elderts at a Waikiki McDonald’s following a Hawaii Supreme Court decision today that denied an appeal by Deedy.

“We are gratified to know the Hawaii Supreme Court agrees with our position that there is legal and factual basis to allow the case against Christopher Deedy to be retried,” city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said this afternoon. ” We will be pursuing a manslaughter conviction. Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa will handle the case.”

Deedy’s attorney, Thomas Otake, said that they will be appealing the ruling to a federal court, either the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said the appeal could “take years.”….

read … Lynch Mob

Kakaako Gateway: Whack-a-Mole with Shelter-Refusers

HNN: For the second time in a little more than two months signs went up at Kakaako Gateway Parks announcing a closure. For years the state has struggled to keep illegal campers out. But recently up to 50 squatters reclaimed the park after the state fenced off their old campsite a few streets over….

Jon works across the street and said the camp makes it hard to run a business. On top of all the trash and loose dogs -- he told us violence is getting worse.

"It becomes a little more scary sometimes," said Jon. "We have a lot of incidents where police has to come over here."

Now the state is taking a new approach to try and dismantle the camp by doing sweeps side by side with the city.

"We will be enforcing park closure and the city and other state agencies will be enforcing their laws in order to actually try and address the problem in a more holistic way," said Garett Kamemoto, Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Dual enforcement will begin when the park closes Sunday night. The area will remain off limits until January 8th while crews make repairs. A new security detail will be in charge of making sure everyone is out of all Hawaii Community Development Authority Parks each night.

In the meantime outreach workers are offering help to anyone who wants it….

Kakaako Waterfront Park is also set to reopen January 8th after being closed three months….

AP: Police Officer Liberates Baby from Homeless Drug Addicts

read … Shelter Refusers

State selling affordable rental portfolio for $170 million

SA: The state today agreed to sell 1,221 affordable rental apartments at six properties mainly serving low-income residents to a Hawaii and California real estate development partnership for $170 million. ($139K per unit)

Board members of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. unanimously voted to sell the leasehold interest in the properties to Honolulu-based Stanford Carr Development and Los Angeles-based Standard Property Co.

The six properties are Kamakee Vista, Kauhale Kakaako and Pohulani Elderly in Kakaako; Kekuilani Courts in Kapolei; Lailani Apartments in Kona; and Honokowai Kauhale in Lahaina….

read … State selling affordable rental portfolio for $170 million

Poll: Lottery Support 55-34

CB: Those who support a lottery lead opponents 55 percent to 34 percent in the poll, with just 4 percent unsure and 7 percent saying it doesn’t matter….

In the most recent session, a House bill setting up a state lottery commission to implement a lottery and a Senate bill to establish a Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation for the purpose of conducting internet gambling were quickly shelved.

Both carry over to the 2018 session, but their chances of being heard are slim. That has been the fate of most gaming bills, including ones calling for a casino in Waikiki and shipboard gambling in Hawaii waters….

read … Gambling

Canoe clubs statewide could be kept on land because of insurance issue

HNN:  Next year's regatta season for local canoe clubs may be in jeopardy because the parent association is having trouble finding an insurance company to cover them.

The Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's current insurance policy is set to expire in two weeks, and paddlers say the group is having trouble getting coverage because of lawsuits from past accidents involving escort boats.

In one accident last year, a woman was nearly killed by a propeller during a race. …

read … Canoe clubs statewide could be kept on land because of insurance issue

Captive Fish: Anti-Superferry Activists try to pander to Anti-Aquarium Nuts

MN: The Maui Ocean Center hopes to have 20 percent of all its marine life on display acquired from aquaculture facilities — rather than the wild — by 2020, the center’s curator said last week.

“We believe this is the future,” John Gorman said during a Maui Nui Marine Resource Council meeting Thursday at the (anti-Superferry) Pacific Whale Foundation office at the Ma’alaea Harbor Shops. “We’re talking with (institutions) to get this geared up so they’re more predominant and the industry standard rather than wild capture.”

The initiative coincides with a state Supreme Court ruling in September. It determined that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ practice of doling out permits for commercial aquarium fish collection must comply with the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act.

The following month, a Circuit Court judge ruled that existing commercial permits for use of fine mesh nets to catch aquatic life for aquarium purposes are illegal and invalid. The judge ordered the DLNR not to issue any new permits pending environmental review….

About 98 percent of fish in aquariums worldwide are caught in the wild, according to For the Fishes, a Hawaii nonprofit dedicated to protecting coral reef wildlife. Hawaii is the third-largest source of commercial fish, after Indonesia and the Philippines.

Less than 10 percent of the fish featured by Maui Ocean Center were bred in captivity, but the aquarium is actively working with Hawaii facilities and others to change that. Hawaii Pacific University’s Oceanic Institute on Oahu and the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center on the Big Island are two research centers that have found success raising fish as an alternative for aquariums.

The UH-Hilo center is raising flame angelfish while the institute is nurturing yellow tang. The center plans to receive a batch of yellow tang fish this week from Oceanic Institute that will eventually be placed in its own dedicated exhibit….

read … 20% by 2020

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