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Sunday, December 30, 2018
December 30, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:14 PM :: 682 Views

OHA’s $500K Cookie Crumbles

No, Killing a Special Fund Doesn’t Kill People

JSC Seeks Nominees for Maui Circuit Court

Commissioners Sought for Legacy Land Conservation Commission

Star-Adv: Other Departments Should Copy DoE ‘Maintenance Backlog’ Scam

SA: … This was not a welcome surprise to receive, at the holidays or any other time: The number crunchers tracking the repair-and-maintenance job list for Hawaii’s public schools had been crunching the wrong numbers.

(Translation: We didn’t get the Con-Am property tax so this is Plan B.)

Once they discovered the error (notice how the Star-Adv does not even consider the possibility that the new numbers are a lie?) at the state Department of Education, the reality check emerged as crushingly bad news. The bottom line is that the work backlog will cost an estimated $868 million to finish.

(The bottom line is they are making this up as they go along.  The only real question is why DoE didn’t tack on another $20M to go for better numerology.)

That, said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, is about three times as much as what lawmakers were told last session. Luke, who chairs the House Finance Committee, has been clued into this for some months because she’s been working with the DOE. The big public reveal came last week, when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published the update….

The bright spots: The public can more easily follow along now, with the launch of an online database; also, officials said, the agency has switched to a new contracting system that should reduce the delay in completion of some repairs.

And that’s fine. But those amendments don’t provide satisfactory answers to the two most burning questions: How could this have happened? And how will the taxpayer deal with such a costly burden, merely to return aging school facilities to basic health-and-safety conditions?

(By skipping over the possibility the new numbers are bogus, the Star-Adv editors prove they know the DoE is making this up as they go along.)

This must compel discussion by lawmakers and DOE heads for the 2019 session, to revisit priorities for project completion and make sure the most urgent fixes get funded first with what money is available.  (Blablabla.)

Secondly, it would be wise for other state departments to review their own maintenance spending protocol to ensure that they are not similarly losing track of what needs handling. 

(Translation: With UH and DoE are faking these numbers, other departments must do it as well.)

Finally, the Legislature needs to have a serious conversation about what additional funding streams could be created to bolster the available resources for basic building maintenance…. 

(Translation: Hold onto your wallet.)

Dec 24: Copying UH: DoE Magically Triples its Deferred Maintenance, Grabs for $868M

read … Editorial: Schools’ repair budget alarming

Like Homeless who Refuse Shelter, Lots of Criminals Prefer Prison

WaPo: … Not long after, I sat in a nearby courtroom and watched a man argue with the judge. The man had repeatedly violated his probation, and the judge was explaining that he had a choice: go to a long-term residential rehab program, or go to prison for many years. This seemed no choice at all — and yet, to my astonishment, the man was yelling that he didn’t need rehab and wasn’t going to go. Wearily, the judge sentenced him to prison and turned to his next case….

Which brings me back to Hawaii, because years later, I finally did understand what I’d seen there. I figured it out while lunching with residents of a Utah halfway house, all of whom had done serious prison time. As we ate, I related my story, my continuing bewilderment.

“I would have been begging that judge to keep me out of that cell,” I said. “I would have done anything.”

One of my lunch companions smiled tolerantly.

“The first night you spend in prison is the worst night of your life,” he explained. “But the second night . . . that’s just your life.”

read … The biggest problem with the criminal justice reform bill

Judge: Letting Lots of Criminals out of Jail would boost justice

SA: … the 2017 Legislature passed a resolution (HCR 134) to form a Criminal Pretrial Task Force….

…Believe it or not, there are people sitting in jail for non-violent petty misdemeanors and certain traffic offenses who pose very little risk to the community, but cannot afford (nobody wants to post their) bail (because their family is glad they are in jail). After spending even a brief time in jail, they may have lost their jobs, benefits and perhaps their homes and custody of their children. Those who needed substance-abuse treatment likely didn’t get it (but they weren’t getting it on the outside either)….

(Solution: Keep them in the klink and give them substance abuse treatment there.) 

The full Hawaii Criminal Pretrial Reform report (which suggests letting lots of criminals out on the streets) is on the Judiciary’s website (see www.808ne.ws/2SjhffO).

read … Pretrial reforms would boost justice

Soft on Crime: Tweeker with 14 Convictions Skips out on Bail, Makes Most Wanted List

KHON: …"On October 25, 2018 at about 8:35 a.m., the complainant was laying on his bed in his Waikiki apartment when a male entered his bedroom from the open balcony door. The male began to ask the complainant about a female then removed a glass smoking pipe from his bag. The complainant told the male to get out of his bedroom and to leave the property at which time the male left. The complainant was able to flag down a police officer who was nearby and informed him about what happened."

Branco was arrested for unauthorized entry into a dwelling. He's now wanted on a $100,000 warrant for not showing up for court last week.

According to police Branco has 14 prior convictions and is known to frequent the Honolulu area….

read … Hawaii's Most Wanted: Robert Branco

Federal Prosecutor: We will hold you accountable for these crimes

SA: … law enforcement is actively targeting for investigation and prosecution anyone responsible, directly or indirectly, for the unlawful distribution of controlled substances — whether they are health-care professionals illegally prescribing drugs like fentanyl, or drug dealers selling methamphetamine on a side street. My message is simple: We will hold you accountable for these crimes, period.

But law enforcement alone will not solve the drug problem in Hawaii. We are just one component of what must be a comprehensive and cooperative approach to combatting drug addiction and abuse. Equally essential are the efforts of the medical professionals, treatment providers and community organizations who provide education, outreach and treatment services aimed at preventing illicit drug use and helping those who struggle with addiction find their way to recovery….

read … Much more can, and should, be done to prevent opioid abuse from surging in Hawaii

Seabirds Keep Kauai Free of Windfarms

KGI: … Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has reached an important milestone by increasing its renewable portfolio to more than 50 percent. This was KIUC’s goal for 2023: We have gotten there five years early….

KIUC’s renewable portfolio is growing but there are only a few renewable technologies available to us. For example, the large number of endangered seabirds and bats here prevent the use of wind, which is a preferred renewable in many areas.

Preserving and expanding opportunities to use solar, biomass and hydro along with battery storage capabilities will be critical to reaching the State of Hawaii mandate of 100 percent renewables by 2045.

Our Upper and Lower Waiahi hydroelectric plants have been producing energy on Kauai since the 1920s, using water from the North Fork of the Wailua River and Waikoko Stream, and then returning it to Waiahi Stream, which is part of the Wailua River system.

These plants were originally built to supply power to Lihue Plantation Company’s sugar operation. They generate roughly 1.5 megawatts of electricity at a cost far, far lower than any other generation facility that supplies KIUC with power….

Their continued use directly avoids burning roughly 675,000 gallons of diesel each year, and assists us in delivering reliable power to our 25,800 members at one-third the cost of fossil fuel generation.

In addition to delivering these important community and environmental benefits, water exiting the hydro plants has allowed both plantation and diversified agriculture to flourish in Wailua for nearly a century….

read … Achieving perfect fit for renewable energy puzzle

Hawaii’s biosecurity plan lags in funding, implementation

SA: … More than two years after Gov. David Ige’s administration unveiled a 10-year, $378 million plan to escalate the state’s fight against invasive species, much of it remains unfunded and the governor plans to ask the Legislature to provide only a fraction of what was envisioned for the next two fiscal years.

Some of the priorities laid out in the ambitious, 147-point Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan, such as the creation of an Invasive Species Authority to coordinate interagency efforts, have been sidelined by the Legislature. For other items, the Ige administration either hasn’t requested funds from the Legislature or state departments have indicated they aren’t ready to implement them.

The governor’s office referred questions about the plan to Joshua Atwood, program supervisor for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council who is spearheading its implementation. He tallied about $20 million in added funding in the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years to advance biosecurity. …

(Translation $358M not wasted on this boondoggle.)

read … Hawaii’s biosecurity plan lags in funding, implementation

Dusty, dull bureaucracy revealed in time capsule

Cataluna: … The items selected for the time capsule were detailed in that morning’s Honolulu Advertiser and included things like photographs of both houses of the Legislature, annual reports from every state agency, a directory of state, county and federal officials, a bulky city directory, an economic development report and an issue of “Guide to Government in Hawaii.”

In other words, stuff as dry as the sands of an hourglass. ….

There is another time capsule being planned for 2019 to take this one’s place. With the fresh experience of having felt the letdown of finding only common government documents, perhaps the new capsule can include items that will project a more human story to the people who open it in 2069. Hand-written notes from a heated policy debate. Menus from the places Capitol staff likes to order lunch. A T-shirt from a group of visiting preschoolers with all their tiny hands printed across the back.

Something that lets future Hawaii know that current Hawaii leaders had a little vision and imagination and soul….

read … Dusty, dull bureaucracy revealed in time capsule

Border wall-fund founder lived in Hawaii

SA: … A wounded Iraq War veteran and 1999 Kaimuki High graduate continues to raise millions to build a wall on the Mexican border even as the U.S. government remains partially shuttered over President Donald Trump’s demand for federal funding for the controversial project.

Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who lost part of an arm and both legs in a rocket attack in 2004, had raised a staggering $18 million as of Saturday through his 2-week-old “We the people will fund the wall” GoFundMe online account. Nearly 300,000 people have contributed.

Along the way, the former Honolulu resident who now lives in Miramar Beach, Fla., has become a lightning rod for Trump’s promised border wall, receiving death threats against his family, he said. …

read … Border wall-fund founder lived in Hawaii

Mazie Hirono Reminds us Democrats’ leaders are snooty supercilious snobs

PN: … Snooty snobs

On rare occasion, elected officials unambiguously reveal their haughtiness and sense of superiority, their belief in their own self-importance and their disdain for what they apparently consider the lower orders.

Such contempt for others is usually inadvertently revealed in unguarded moments wherein they expose their true beliefs, when their mask slips a bit and momentarily reveals their normally hidden persona.

Rarely, however, does a politician brazenly rip off their mask and display their true face for all to see.

But this is just what happened a few days ago when Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono stated that, “her party has a difficult time connecting with voters because Democrats know so much” and “we [Democrats] have to tell everyone how smart we (Democrats) are.”

Wow.

Talk about arrogant.

Apparently, per Hirono, if only this non-Democrat rabble were just a bit keener, these super-smart Democrats could connect more easily with them and, perhaps, bring them to their senses and even, convert them ….

Dec. 5, 2018: Smug Hirono: Dems Struggle Appealing to Voters Because ‘We Have to Tell Everyone How Smart We Are’

read … Democrats’ leaders are snooty supercilious snobs

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