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Sunday, August 11, 2019
August 11, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:19 PM :: 900 Views

Disciplinary Board: Lawyer Gary V Dubin Billed Client for 30 Hours in One Day

Windfarms Bribe Environmentalists for Permission to Kill 300 Bats, 44 Nene

Soft on Crime – Because of the Money

Ige TMT: ‘FUBAR’

Shapiro: … it so perfectly describes Gov. David Ige’s bungling of the ugly standoff on Mauna Kea between the Thirty Meter Telescope and Hawaiian opponents.

This can be said without taking sides in the dispute, as Ige has managed to lose the respect of nearly everybody on either side and in between.

When protesters first blocked TMT in 2015, Ige vowed to enforce access for construction crews, only to abruptly walk away when it proved more challenging than he thought.

A four-year delay caused by the state Supreme Court’s order to redo the permitting process gave Ige a redo of his own — a chance to think about what had gone wrong and plan for a better outcome the next time.

The governor had basically two options once a new construction permit was approved: find a way to get TMT crews to the summit safely all around for a decade of construction, or advise TMT he didn’t believe this possible without fracturing the community beyond repair and politely point it to a backup site in the Canary Islands.

Ige came down heavy on Option No. 1, announcing construction would start July 15 and vowing to take whatever steps necessary to enforce TMT’s access rights.

He readied the National Guard and declared an emergency, but when law enforcers came face to face with determined opponents, Ige had nothing. He’d learned zilch from the 2015 standoff. There was no new plan.

So Ige did as as he’d done four years earlier — walked away and left Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim to clean up his mess.

Nearly four weeks later, there’s no resolution and no meaningful negotiations with emboldened opponents who say they won’t compromise.

Not only is TMT stalled, but Ige’s failure to control the state access road effectively shut down existing telescopes, putting expensive instruments at risk and costing valuable research as tax-paying employees can’t get to work.

TMT officials and opponents alike can only guess what to make of Ige’s continuing promises to support the project as he extends the window to start construction by two years until 2021 (when unfortunately he will still be governor)….

read … FUBAR

Telescope: “This is this is not a full return to operations”

BIVN: … said John O’Meara with the W.M. Keck Observatory. “This is this is not a full return to operations. A full return to operations is going to have complete access to the summit access road, basically whenever we need it, and we need to be able to do so safely. But we’ve have enough to do limited operations now and we’re really looking forward to working with the state to regain access to the road to have full operations.”…

SA: Road closure, delay of TMT construction taking economic toll on Big Isle

read … VIDEO: Astronomers Excited To Restart “Limited” Operations On Mauna Kea

Amid protest, Hawaii astronomers lose 2000 Hours of observation time

AP: … Asteroids, including those that might slam into Earth. Clouds of gas and dust on the verge of forming stars. Planets orbiting stars other than our own.

This is some of the research astronomers say they have missed out on at 11 observatories on Hawaii’s tallest mountain as a protest blocks the road to the summit, one of the world’s premier sites for studying the skies.

Astronomers said Friday they will attempt to resume observations, but they have already lost four weeks of viewing — and in some cases won’t be able to make up the missed research. Protesters, who are trying to stop the construction of yet another telescope at the site, say they should not be blamed for the shutdown.

Astronomers cancelled more than 2,000 hours of viewing at Mauna Kea’s existing telescopes, work they estimate would have led to the publication of about 450 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals….

TH: The facility was the site of some of the "most critical" research about space today.

read … Amid protest, Hawaii astronomers lose observation time

Wait and see if city enforcement matches its tough talk against illegal vacation rentals

Borreca: …  From the beginning of this month through Oct. 1, 2020, unpermitted vacation rentals will just have to pack up. Then in October, prospective rental operators will have a chance to apply for one of the fewer than 2,000 permits to be available.

Already one industry group has sued and most of the real estate industry is just fuming.

One prominent Realtor, who asked for anonymity, said the city ordinance just isn’t well written.

“This law wasn’t very well thought out and it will impact a lot of local people. Most vacation home owners are not foreign. Most (not all) are humble, local people who used the income to help offset the high cost of living….

Meanwhile the city said it is just on the verge of pulling the trigger and “investigating a couple hundred violations right now.”

The question is: Will the sudden burst of tough talking from Mayor Kirk Caldwell and city officials really continue into real fines?

Even last week, Airbnb was listing vacation rentals in areas clearly off limits. The most obvious is the North Shore, where, according to the city’s own North Shore Sustainable Communities Plan, vacation rentals are not allowed now, nor in the future….

SA Editorial: Take swift action on illegal rentals

read … Wait and see if city enforcement matches its tough talk against illegal vacation rentals

Bill 7: Last Minute Changes Make Affordable Housing Bill Ineffective (as usual)

SA: … On May 8, the City Council unanimously approved Bill 7, a private-sector solution to increase Oahu’s supply of rental housing by incentivizing small-property owners to develop affordable units via various zoning waivers. Unfortunately, three last-minute changes were made that could significantly hurt the goal of producing 500 rental units per year….

rent restrictions so should not have been included in Bill 7 — one less roadblock in the decision-making process for a small landowner.

This reaction from small landowners has been borne out in the meetings Hawaii’s four major banks have held for customers since Bill 7 became law. The banks understand the great impact the law could make toward more affordable rentals and want to do their part in encouraging these developments. But when the restriction on rents is explained, some of the landowners have opined that government has no right to rental rate limitations if there is no government financing….

The second last-minute change was to impose a draconian penalty of 10 times the amount of the real property tax for the years of noncompliance of terms, even if the violation was inadvertent….

The third last-minute change was to limit the use of Bill 7 on state Department of Education (DOE) lands to faculty housing, instead of opening them up to general-public affordable rentals….

read … Fix flaws in city’s rental housing bill

Next Failure: HCDA Swaps Kakaako Makai Park for Aloha Stadium

SA: Even in a state with land values as high as they are in Hawaii, (STATE) property is not developed to its highest and best use without some tending. Sometimes, it can take a serious nudge to make it happen at all — and then another push-and-pull to figure out when the job is finished.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) is in that second, uncomfortable phase right now, with state officials wrangling over how the agency can take on the new project of Aloha Stadium redevelopment without dropping its first development district: Kakaako.

Much but not all of the transformation of that last stretch of Honolulu’s waterfront has taken place, to the point where some figure the state’s work is done. Those in charge of HCDA counter that several difficult issues remain unresolved, and a “sunset plan” is now in the works to explain to state lawmakers just what’s left to do there….

Back before the authority existed, Kakaako — widely seen as unrealized potential — became a kind of political battlefield between the city and state governments.

“The Legislature finds that many urban areas of the state are substantially underdeveloped or blighted, and are or are potentially in need of urban renewal,” was how lawmakers put it in the bill that became Act 153 in 1976….

When in 1998 Barbers Point Naval Air Station was decommissioned, much of it transferred to state ownership — and redevelopment of the renamed Kalaeloa became a second focal point at HCDA.

And in something of a departure, HCDA in 2009 entered into a long-term lease with the nonprofit Kako‘o Oiwi to restore the Heeia wetlands into a working agricultural and cultural zone, the agency’s third district.

Finally, in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers decided to put the redevelopment of a district including Aloha Stadium on HCDA’s plate, too….

…Great idea move all the homeless to Aloha Stadium….

SA: Add Aloha Stadium to HCDA’s districts

read … HCDA, now tasked with redoing Aloha Stadium, reassesses Kakaako

Parking barriers mysteriously placed at Laniakea overnight

KHON: … city and state agencies didn’t approve it and now officials are wondering who put them up.

“We came out this morning and noticed all these traffic cones and stanchions blocking off Laniakea’s parking area and we’ve spent the last five or six hours trying to figure out who put them out here,” said Honolulu police Sgt. Kevin Napoleon.

Cars still parked around the barriers and between 9 and 10 a.m. the unknown person or group came back and put up caution tape.  …

In a statement two weeks ago HPD said:

The Honolulu Police Department shares the concerns expressed by North Shore residents and others who must drive past Laniakea or Turtle Beach.  After issuing parking citations in February 2018, the HPD was informed of an agreement that had been made in 2015 which prohibits parking enforcement to take place for the duration of a lawsuit that had been filed against the City and State.  The HPD is currently waiting for direction from city attorneys as the parties work toward resolving the lawsuit….

The barriers belong to Safety System and Signs Hawaii.

The company told police they dropped off signs near Waimea for scheduled tree trimming and construction earlier this week, but they didn’t drop them off at Laniakea….

Two workers from Safety System and Signs Hawaii came around 1 p.m. and removed the barriers….

“Depending on the value of how many they have, I believe we’re going to be making a Theft II case or Theft III case and recovering it and giving it back to safety systems,” Sgt. Napoleon said….

Related: Open Letter to Surfrider: Drop Laniakea Suit Before Child is Killed

read … Parking barriers mysteriously placed at Laniakea overnight

Disagreement remains over nonjudicial foreclosures by condo associations

ILind: … When Senate Bill 551 CD1 became law on July 12 as Act 282 without Governor Ige’s signature, there appeared to be hope that the legality of condominium associations’ use of nonjudicial foreclosure procedures had been settled.

But the issues will be considered again in a case scheduled for oral arguments before the Hawaii Supreme Court on September 19, which will test whether or not the new law retroactively legalizes all prior condominium foreclosures, or only those of those conducted in accordance with alternative procedures for condominiums adopted into law in 2012….

Related: Will Ige Veto Sustain Dubin Litigation? Condo Owners Could Face Millions Of Dollars In Potential Liability

read … Disagreement remains over nonjudicial foreclosures by condo associations

Agency sets high price for inmate release records

SA: … Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety said it would cost more than $1 million for it to release data related to its long-standing problem with keeping inmates locked up beyond their scheduled release dates.

While government agencies have been known to charge exorbitant fees for records — impeding the release of public information — the seven- figure amount that DPS says the Honolulu Star-Advertiser will need to pay is rare.

Earlier this year, researchers who worked with a now-defunct joint program of the Department of Public Safety and University Hawaii told the Star-Advertiser that DPS data indicated that about 10% of inmates have been overdetained in Hawaii’s jails and prisons in past years, though they couldn’t tell whether all of those inmates had indeed been overdetained or if the data were just rife with errors.

DPS officials have said the 10% figure is wrong. But when the Star-Advertiser requested the underlying data that could back up that assertion, a top official with the state agency said Monday it would cost more than $1 million.….

In March, DPS acknowledged that in 2018 nine inmates had been incarcerated beyond the date they were legally supposed to be released. But Harrington denied records requests for the names of the inmates and the lengths of time they were over- detained…

read … Agency sets high price for inmate release records

Medicaid patients hit hurdle seeking mental health care

SA: … Patients for years have complained about the difficulty in finding a doctor through Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income residents. Many doctors restrict the number of Medicaid patients they treat because the program’s reimbursement rates do not cover the cost of care, they say. The result is limited access to care for the state’s most vulnerable patients.

Med-QUEST Administrator Judy Mohr Peterson at the state Department of Human Services, which administers the Medicaid program for more than 340,000 low-income and disabled residents, did not say how many doctors on the participating provider list are actually accepting new patients or what the DHS is doing to address the issue.

Currently, health plans contracted with Medicaid to provide services report having about 180 psychiatrists. About 83%, or 150, are accepting new patients, she said.

“The Department of Human Services Med-QUEST division understands the importance of individuals being able to obtain the necessary care for their health needs,” Mohr Peterson said. “Health plans accepting QUEST should be able to assist with getting that necessary care.”

Dr. Marvin Acklin, a Honolulu psychologist in private practice since 1990, said he’s been trying to get a psychiatrist for six weeks to see his pregnant patient who has a history of bipolar disorder.

“The question arises, OK who? It’s almost impossible at this point to find psychiatrists who are taking patients or who are accepting QUEST,” Acklin said. “It’s been well known there’s a short supply of psychiatrists. Even within that framework there’s limitations in access in QUEST, and it’s a real problem.”

Longtime psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Kemble agreed there are almost no psychiatrists taking QUEST patients due to a “combination of low pay and micromanagement by insurance companies.”

“When I started my practice in 1985 all psychiatrists took Medicaid,” he said, adding the situation changed when insurers began managing care in the 1990s and started making it harder for doctors to prescribe certain drugs. “The result has been a marked decline in participation by psychiatrists, a decline in access to care for people and relentlessly rising costs.”

He said people who are psychotic are often admitted to the hospital because they’re doing something dangerous to themselves or to others, but are discharged after several days often with no care.

“There’s a lot of mentally ill who end up homeless. Even middle-class people who have money can’t find a psychiatrist to take their child who develops schizophrenia,” Kemble said. “It’s a disaster.”…

read … Medicaid patients hit hurdle seeking mental health care

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