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Wednesday, April 17, 2019
April 17, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:15 PM :: 1595 Views

Why Farm?

The Unintended Hazards Of Red-Light Cameras

Tax Foundation Hawaii: Motion for Reconsideration Rips Rail-Skim Decision

Is lack of funding the real problem in the Department of Education?

Auditor: AG's Child Support Fund Still Running Deficit

Lahaina Injection Wells: EPA won't regulate pollution that moves through groundwater

Economist: Regulations Add 24% to Home Construction Costs

MN: … Gardner said there are four cost components to building a house: land, labor, materials and regulations. After the Great Recession began receding in 2011, the amount of laborers went down, but cost of all components continue to rise. Regulatory fees, for example, cost 24 cents for every dollar spent on a house…. 

read … Economist: Maui ‘maxed out’ of housing units

Beating agriculture to death in Hawaii

JC: … Now, however, Hawaii’s agriculture is facing an even greater threat than economics: unrelenting attacks by activists. Ironically, they’re the very same ones most apt to crow “buy local,” even as they systematically undermine farmers in a quest to advance their own political ambitions. They’ve found agriculture to be a far weaker target than their old foes — the military and tourism — so their sociopolitical agendas are increasingly framed by narratives that denounce farming as the toxic, greed-driven practice of callous corporations.

Most recently, they’ve added “water-sucking vampires,” “thieves” and “pirates” to their list of disparagements as they gun for agricultural water under the guise of sticking it to Alexander & Baldwin, one of the last “Big 5” landowners from Hawaii’s plantation era. This, too, is part of their formula, since it’s awfully easy to incite the public, or at least a loud enough fringe, when there’s a convenient bogeyman to malign.

But as is true in most wars, though the “big guys” are the target, the “little guys” are the inevitable collateral damage. Smallholder ranchers and farmers who are producing the local food that activists say they want to eat end up paying the price. They’re the ones who suffer the sleepless nights, the economic uncertainty that makes it impossible to plan and unwise to invest in their own operations. They’re the ones who are least able to afford lawyers, regulatory compliance, Environmental Impact Statements, lobbyists or even showing up at the state capitol to make their case.

They’re the ones who are increasingly demoralized by the ugly assaults on their character, their motives, their farming practices, their families. They’re the ones who are left to twist in the shifting political winds. As one weary farm leader noted, “Between the activists and the bureaucrats, it’s just too much. Our morale is so low I can’t even rally the troops anymore.”

And who can blame them? In recent years, activists have waged bloody battles at both the county and state levels over growing genetically modified crops — Hawaii has a large and lucrative GM and hybrid parent seed industry — disclosing pesticide use, banning certain pesticides, imposing buffer zones around farms, burning sugar cane fields and most recently, accessing water for farming.

Though the activists say they’re trying to protect Hawaii’s environment, they somehow fail to note that their relentless destruction of agriculture comes at its own environmental price: the massive carbon emissions associated with transporting food thousands of miles to the most isolated inhabited landmass on Earth.

Unlike the farmers and ranchers who have devoted their lives to agriculture, these activists have nothing at stake, no dog in the fight. Indeed, they stand only to gain, both through the fundraising that accompanies their practice of conflict activism and their desire to obtain political power.

Like politicians everywhere, many of Hawaii’s lawmakers are cowardly, opportunistic and willing to cave the moment the drummed-up outcry grows loud enough, which is why they rejected a bill that would have kept the water flowing. Some, like state Sen. Kai Kahele, even make silly, gratuitous comments in a bid to curry favor with the activists: “This is a generation that is awakened. It’s a generation that is intelligent and knows its history. It sticks to its core values.”

Actually, the activists span several generations, have no recognizable core values other than a shared opposition to modern agriculture, are shockingly ignorant of Hawaii’s history and largely limit their education to the teachings of their social media echo chamber. And rather than “awakened,” they’re sleepwalking through a dream of romanticism, nostalgia and self-interest. But then, Kahele probably didn’t notice, because, like him, they’re prone to grandstanding, with a distinct disregard for reality and the truth….

read … Beating agriculture to death in Hawaii

Honolulu Salary Commission Approves Pay Raises For Top City Officials

HPR: … The increase will give Mayor Kirk Caldwell an annual salary of $182,432. That's an additional $6,000 over his 2018 salary. But his won't be the top salary in the city.

That would go to the city's medical examiner, who will see a pay raise of $10,000 for a total of $310,200 for this year. The deputy medical examiner will receive the most significant raise, percentage wise, at 13.5% -- raising his pay from $239,808 to $273,024. 

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard will see a pay raise of of about $7,000 over last year for a salary of $205,800. Fire Chief Manuel Neves will get a similar dollar raise, but he will have a salary of $199,272.

City councilmembers will also see a pay increases. Their new salaries will be about $69,000.

The raises will take effect on July 1, unless the City Council decides otherwise. If the council wants to reject any of the salaries, three-quarters of the members must agree to overturn the commission's decision.

More information about the Salary Commission's findings of Facts and resolution can be found on its website.

For a full list of the raises, see the commission's April 16 agenda.

read … Honolulu Salary Commission Approves Pay Raises For Top City Officials

Abercrombie Forced Micronesians onto Obamacare

CB: … The timing of the announcement was curious. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal challenging the state of Hawaii’s exclusion of migrants from the Compacts of Free Association nations from its Medicaid program on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. By that afternoon the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced its intentions to remove patients who had been enrolled in Medicaid.

The Hawaii Department of Human Services had a plan ready for rollout. Those 18 and under and pregnant women would continue to receive Medicaid. The aged, blind, and disabled would continue to receive state-funded benefits under a Medicaid-like plan. Those 19 through 64 years of age were moved onto private insurance plans via Affordable Healthcare Act mechanisms.

Of note, Abercrombie was a lame duck by Nov. 3. He had lost in the Democratic Party primary to David Ige, who went on to defeat Republican James “Duke” Aiona and independent Mufi Hannemann the next day: Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

What was the reason for the alacrity to announce the plan to remove COFA migrants from Medicaid rolls? …

Abercrombie’s disdain for Micronesians is evident in a recent pronouncement: “People come here, they have no job, they don’t even have to have a job, they don’t have to pay any taxes, if they get enough to get airfare they can go from the airport to Queen’s Hospital.”…

Background:

read … Hawaii’s Elite Excluded Micronesians From Medicaid

Politicians Tour MCCC After Riot, Spend $8M

KHON: … Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda, Governor David Ige, and United Public Workers Union’s State Director Dayton Nakanelua all traveled to Maui Tuesday to join Maui Mayor Michael Victorino in surveying the latest repairs and security updates underway at the Maui Community Correctional Center. They walked through the modules damaged by last month’s disturbance and also toured other parts of the facility.

“The incident at MCCC stemmed from long-standing conditions of overcrowding.  Director Espinda has expressed regularly, in all possible forums, his deep concern for the overcrowded conditions.  Until the additional bed spaces, which are at various stages of progress, become reality, the state will continue to do all in its power and capability to operate safe, secure, clean and constitutionally compliant facilities,” Governor David Ige said.

“The United Public Workers Union supports Director Espinda and the Department of Public Safety in their efforts to address the overcrowding and sub-par conditions at all of the state’s correctional facilities,” UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua said. “We are eager to work with the Director and his staff to create a better work environment for adult correctional officers statewide."

According to the Department of Public Safety, estimates for the MCCC emergency repairs were estimated at $5.3 million. The Fiscal Year 20 CIP money granted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee will give the Dept. of Public Safety an additional $8 million for long term security improvement projects at MCCC. To date, $50,729 has been spent on the emergency repairs to the modules.  …

read … Senate Ways and Means Committee grants an additional $8 million for long-term improvements at MCCC

Latest DoE Grift: $11B for New Schools or Something

CB: …Hawaii Department of Education officials are hoping a new statewide facilities master plan will persuade lawmakers to provide more money for maintaining and renovating aging public schools and building new facilities.

Extensive and wide-ranging, the master plan lays out an exhaustive list of 1,300 desired capital improvement projects across all 261 DOE campuses.

It was published late last week on a website managed by Jacobs Engineering Group, an outside firm commissioned by the DOE to conduct the study.

The estimated total price tag for “top priority” projects, such as additional classroom space to account for overcrowding or basic repair and maintenance to make schools safer, is $7 billion, according to the 309-page report. That figure rises to $11 billion when accounting for all levels of priorities.

Under the DOE’s current approximately $300 million annual CIP allocation from the Legislature, those “Priority 1” projects — which include the “highest, non-negotiable needs” identified in each area of Hawaii — would take 23 years to address….

April 13, 2019: 30 Years Late: DoE Discovers IDIQ -- ‘Job Order Contracting

read … DOE Lays Out A 10-year ‘Road Map’ For Fixing Old Schools, Building New Ones

Red Hill Tank Relocation Pricetag—$1.6B

HNN: … Early last year, a Navy study looked at twelve potential new sites if it were to shut down its 20 current tanks…. While the Navy said it’s hard to provide estimates, Anderson said maintaining the tanks would cost $1.6 billion for 20 years and is about the same as the cost of relocation…..

read … State regulators push to relocate Red Hill fuel tanks as Navy studies potential new sites

Meth Addict Who Dies After Being Tased was Son of American Samoa Police Commissioner

SN: … The family of an American Samoan man who is alleged to have been assaulted by three police officers in downtown Honolulu and later died at a Hawaii hospital four year ago is seeking “general and punitive damages of ten million dollars” in their civil lawsuit against the officers, according to new filings at the federal court in Honolulu, which has set trial next month.

The deceased is Sheldon Paul Haleck, son of former Police Commissioner, William Haleck, who along with Sheldon’s wife and siblings, filed a civil action suit in November 2015 at the federal court in Honolulu.

The plaintiffs contend, among other things, that the deceased — on the evening of Mar. 16, 2015 — was wrongfully seized, denied his liberty, and fatally assaulted by Honolulu police officers Christopher Chung, Samantha Critchlow, and Stephen Kardash. The officers have adamantly denied the allegations….

CB: Taser Video Shows Final Minutes Before Sheldon Haleck Died in Police Custody

read … Sheldon Haleck case is moving forward after no settlement reached

8 homeless shelters don’t meet new standards, but will be funded anyway

HNN: … The state has had to throw out the results of its latest bids from homeless shelter providers after eight of 34 homeless shelters failed to meet new quality standards.

Instead of shutting any homeless shelters down, the state is giving everyone a redo.

Officials at the state Department of Human Services won’t confirm which shelters didn’t meet its new standards. They also wouldn’t explain exactly how those standards will be applied moving forward because they don’t want to jeopardize the procurement process.

In a memo dated April 12, the state announced eight funding proposals submitted by Hawaii’s homeless service providers failed to get a passing score in the bidding process for funding.

Because closing the shelters would leave an "unprecedented gap in the state’s homeless service system” the decision was made to scrap the current bidding process and fund the shelters anyway….

read … 8 homeless shelters don’t meet new standards, but will be funded anyway           

Busting prostitution businesses is a priority for the prosecutor's office

KITV: … Relaxation spas at the A Y Wong building in Ala Moana were busted by city investigators who gathered evidence, got search warrants, then made arrests....just like regular police officers.

So why doesn't the Prosecutor's Office simply use Honolulu police officers?

"We focus mainly on the massage parlors,  HPD was not focusing on the massage parlors," said Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto.

The Prosecutor's Office has 3-4 full time investigators looking into these illegal businesses and has busted 22 of them over the past 3 three years.

"We are closing down massage parlors. We have closed down a number of them, and as word gets out people will be much more leery about going to them."

During those busts,15 people were arrested for prostitution, which is a petty misdemeanor. But nearly double that number were arrested for racketeering, which is a class B felony that carries much more jail time and is a bigger deterrent to committing crimes.

read … Busting prostitution businesses is a priority for the prosecutor's office

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