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Sunday, September 22, 2019
September 22, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:57 PM :: 1179 Views

Feds Approve Hawaii Windfarm Plan to Kill 424 Bats, 47 Nene, 27 Petrels

Effects of the Jones Act

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 21, 2019

Honolulu Monthly Cost of Living $9,632

Poll: Most Hawaii residents say state elected officials don’t care about them

SA: … A majority of Hawaii residents say the state is moving in the wrong direction and expressed little confidence in the state’s elected officials, a new Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll shows.

Just 27% of respondents said they thought the state was on the right track, compared to 61% who said the state was on the wrong track. Another 12% of respondents said they weren’t sure.

The gloomy outlook was most prevalent on Oahu, while neighbor island residents polled were slightly more upbeat.

Republicans have an even darker view of the state’s trajectory, with 72% of respondents saying the state was on the wrong track and 14% saying the state was on the right track.

The Star-Advertiser poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy between Sept. 12 and Sept. 17, surveyed 800 registered voters statewide by phone. The poll’s margin of error is 3.5%.

The survey also found that a majority of local residents feel that Hawaii’s elected officials don’t care what they think and generally don’t have high ethical standards.

Just 34% of those polled said elected officials care about what they think, while 56% said they do not. Another 10% of residents said they weren’t sure. Slightly more men than women said they felt that elected officials weren’t interested in their views, while there was little or no difference among age groups and ethnicities.

Some 51% of respondents said they feel elected officials don’t have high ethical standards, while 33% of those polled said they do. Another 16% said they weren’t sure.

Republicans’ view of elected officials was significantly more negative, which isn’t surprising in a state dominated by the Democratic Party….

Kenneth Chang, a retired Honolulu resident who since the election of President Donald Trump no longer identifies as a Republican, also said the state was moving in the wrong direction when polled by the Star- Advertiser.

Chang said he feels that way, in part, because of the handling of TMT….

read … Most Hawaii residents say state elected officials don’t care about them

HART May Try to Slip ‘Lawyers’ into Next Year’s Rail Budget

SA: … the Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee dead­locked in a 4-4 vote on Aug. 21 on a resolution that would have authorized spending up to $300,000 to hire the firm to represent current and former rail employees who were summoned for interviews in connection with the federal probe.

In an interview earlier this month, Robbins said that city lawyers are still available “for whatever help they can provide, but we certainly encouraged employees to reach out to private attorneys if they felt that they should.”

HART has various funding sources of its own, but Robbins said it is “doubtful” that federal funds or revenue from the half- percent state excise surcharge on Oahu or the state hotel room taxes that lawmakers earmarked to pay for rail can be used to hire outside lawyers.

The city also issued tax-exempt general obligation bonds to provide additional funding for rail, but Robbins said he does not believe that money can be used to pay for outside lawyers for employees either.

“I think it’s fair to say the employees were disappointed,” Robbins said.

Looking ahead, Robbins said HART will consider whether it should request money for outside lawyers when it submits its budget request for the fiscal year that begins July 1. HART is in the early stages of assembling that budget, he said.

“We’ll think through whether we want to budget for potential legal counsel,” he said. “Any use of city funds will have to be approved by the City Council.”

HART in February was served with three federal grand jury subpoenas seeking tens of thousands of records, but it is still unclear what the focus of the federal inquiry might be.….

Robbins: With FTA nod, rail makes real progress

read … Council won’t pay for HART employees’ lawyers

With TMT stalled, time for a moratorium on Mauna Kea

Shapiro: …The Thirty Meter Telescope appears at a dead end for now, leaving a chance for Gov. David Ige and Hawaiian protesters to end the rising rancor and negotiate a good-faith moratorium to reopen the public road to Mauna Kea’s summit.

After two months of protests and Ige’s failure to provide promised access to the work site, TMT has backed off assertions in July that it was ready to immediately send crews and equipment to the summit to begin work on the $1.4 billion telescope.

Asked last week if construction would still start immediately if the state cleared protesters from the road, TMT Vice President Gordon Squires hedged, saying, “There are a number of factors to be considered other than just opening the road.”

He said these include the outcome of “larger conversations” involving Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, who was asked by Ige to seek a solution to the standoff, and community stakeholders.

“As such, a specific time frame between the clearing of the road and start of construction is unclear,” Squires said.

With work effectively on hold, there’s no good reason for protesters to continue blocking the summit road to the inconvenience of staff at other observatories, tour groups and other members of the public wishing to use a public road.

Nor is there justification for the state to continue limiting the access of Hawaiian cultural practitioners to Mauna Kea.

The two sides should be able to agree on a moratorium that reopens the summit road, restores traffic flow on Saddle Road and frees law enforcement without requiring either to relinquish their perceived rights should the situation on the ground change….

TMT, meantime, is holding its own discussions among funding partners in California, Canada, Japan, China and India who are nervous about the prospect of a 10-year construction process fraught with endless protests and lawsuits….

Protesters would risk losing the credibility they’ve gained from the mostly smart, disciplined and dignified way they’ve run their camp if they refused to stand down if offered a promise to maintain the status quo while discussions ensue.

A fair moratorium would end recent charges and countercharges of abuse that dangerously inflame the situation….

read … With TMT stalled, time for a moratorium on Mauna Kea

When it comes to gambling crackdowns, Hawaii is all in — with help from the feds

Borreca: Kenji Price, U.S. attorney for Hawaii, last week announced new federal investigations into illegal gambling outfits in Hawaii. Price kicked off the action by saying the local- federal joint investigation has identified 80 illegal Oahu game rooms in both commercial areas and residential neighborhoods.

Doesn’t it seem that when a real clean sweep against the crooks is needed, we have to look to feds to bring out the big brooms?

Already the feds have grabbed 60 illegal gambling machines and approximately $150,000….

Price, a Mililani High School and University of Pennsylvania Law School graduate and former U.S. Army Ranger, said about 80 properties may be involved in gambling activity. His office is looking to seize two homes and planning to take more property.

The reason, Price said, is that these properties are being used for illegal gambling activity, and so may be grabbed through criminal or civil asset forfeiture….

Honolulu cops and gambling history have not always been above reproach.

It was the FBI back in 2006 that charged four police officers and one former officer with trying to protect illegal gambling involving cockfights, craps and card games. The raids were the result of a two-year federal investigation that ended in the conviction of several officers….

Don’t Forget this from 2011:  HPD major indicted in gaming extortion

read … When it comes to gambling crackdowns, Hawaii is all in — with help from the feds

DHHL lets delinquent lease swell to $242,000

SA: … The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for years allowed a Big Island man to make sporadic lease payments on a parcel in Hilo, with the past due amount eventually growing to six figures.

Yet even as he was skipping payments Lawrence Balberde was collecting thousands of dollars monthly by illegally re-leasing the roughly half-acre DHHL parcel to a Hilo church, according to department records and interviews.

After the Hawaiian Homes Commission learned that Balberde was collecting rent from the church through an unauthorized sublease since about 2010 but was not addressing his accumulated debt, Balberde’s lease was finally canceled in May….

Connect Point Church last week asked the commission to end plans for a public auction to award a new lease to the highest bidder for property the church has subleased at 168 Holomua St. since 1998.

But the department says it is sticking with the auction plan.

DHHL’s cancellation of Balberde’s lease came nearly eight years after he was sent an initial delinquency notice in December 2011, the records show. Last year DHHL sent several more notices seeking payment.

It’s not clear why the department waited seven years to send the additional notices.

But by the time the lease was canceled, Balberde owed the department $242,000 in back rent, according to its records. He also owed about $470,000 in delinquent property taxes, interest and penalties, the documents show.

To critics of the department, the way DHHL handled this case, including waiting years to cancel the lease, is only the latest of many examples reflecting the department’s long history of poor management of trust lands.

read … DHHL lets delinquent lease swell to $242,000

Plastic bags are bad, but good when mayor says so

Cataluna:  … The city, after years of debate, recently enacted a ban on plastic bags and is now seriously talking about banning all single-use plastics.

Why? Plastic is bad. Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment. The mayor and the City Council worked long and hard to convince the public of that and to accept the necessary inconveniences of doing better.

But then, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced last week that in order to solve a festering trash problem on the streets of Chinatown, merchants there must put out their rubbish in — wait, what??? — plastic bags.

So plastics are bad except when they make stuff more convenient for the city. Got it….

read … Plastic bags are bad, but good when mayor says so

Keep up efforts on park security

SA: … The City and County of Honolulu can boast that it has a decent supply of parks for its residents, at least in terms of area allotted for them. The nonprofit Trust for Public Lands has studied such things and has given this city a score of 75 on a 100-point scale for parks acreage. There are 299 city parks; the study counted other government and private parks in its 444 total.

Access is good, too, according to the 2019 data for Honolulu (www.tpl.org/city/honolulu-hawaii): For 69% of the island’s residents, a park is no more than a 10-minute walk away. That beats the national average of 54%.

Much less impressive were the scores on two other measures. Honolulu tallied 42.5 points for its amenities and a paltry 27.5 for investment. That’s why the city sank to a 47 ranking out of 97 in the study.

That’s why the city’s latest efforts to boost the security and quality of its parks system make perfect sense. Some necessary spending to improve parks supervision when they’re open — and locking them down when they’re not — is yielding encouraging results: a decline in the vandalism that has plagued the parks that are most in use….

read … Keep up efforts on park security

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