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Saturday, November 30, 2019
November 30, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 962 Views

City Conducting 2019 Online National Community Survey for Oahu Residents

Auditor: City Still not Collecting Property Taxes from Commercial Lessees of Government Land

Another Week on Mauna Kea: 329 Tickets, 3 Arrests

Whistleblower lawsuit alleges chronic understaffing, rampant workplace abuses at sheriff’s state Capitol office

HNN: … A new whistleblower lawsuit by a deputy sheriff alleges that the Capitol District sheriff’s office was understaffed on the day of the shooting of homeless man in February.

It’s one of several allegations of security lapses and workplace abuses by Sgt. Ralph Fukumoto, who also accuses co-workers of sleeping on the job, abusing sick leave, surfing online and watching television when they’re supposed to be working.

“This past weekend, I walked into the office and they were watching football on the big screens that were for our surveillance cameras," Fukumoto said.

“They’re actually sleeping in the office area ... They don’t bother to hide out and sleep. They just do it right there and nod off.”

In his lawsuit, Fukumoto said there were two fewer deputies on hand at the state Capitol on Feb. 18 -- the day Delmar Espejo was shot and killed.

“At the time of the incident, I believe that particular deputy was the only one in the building,” he said….

Fukumoto said his complaints not only fell on deaf ears but prompted his supervisor and co-workers to retaliate against him.

His suit alleges that when he did complain, his equipment and locker were vandalized, his lock was changed and that one of his co-workers uploaded harassing screen savers on their computers.

“I take my job seriously. I believe if you’re a law enforcement officer, you should be accountable," he said…

AP: Hawaii Sheriff one of only 5 State Police Agencies without Bodycams

read … Whistleblower lawsuit alleges chronic understaffing, rampant workplace abuses at sheriff’s state Capitol office

Council Proposes Overhaul of Planning and Permitting Department

SA: … Stricter enforcement of regulations on so-called monster houses is the focus of a package of four measures introduced this week by Honolulu City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga.

Three bills, along with a resolution that asks voters to consider an amendment to the City Charter, will get their first airing at Wednesday’s Council meeting.

Fukunaga’s district includes the Kalihi-Kapalama area, where many of the large-scale houses targeted in the proposals have emerged. She said the measures are based on recommendations made in a recent report by the Office of the City Auditor criticizing the Department of Planning and Permitting for being lax, inconsistent and ineffective in coping with the monster house issue.

Allowing property owners and contractors to continue working even after their permits are expired is among the criticisms the auditors lodged against DPP.

Bill 65 would force DPP to revoke a building permit if authorized work does not start within 180 days or is halted at any point for 120 days or more. Revocation would also result if work is not completed within a stipulated time, which would typically be three years.

A second measure, Bill 67, would prohibit DPP from reducing fines imposed for building permit violations. DPP has repeatedly defended its policy of accepting often significantly lower fines, arguing that compliance and not punishment is the agency’s goal.

The third measure, Bill 66, would require DPP to include sworn affidavits in building permit files showing that the layout and use of a structure are consistent with the description in the permit application and will not be altered. Those affidavits now are filed with the state Bureau of Conveyances. That would continue, but DPP would also be required to have it on file.

Resolution 19-325 would place on the 2020 Oahu general election ballot a question asking voters to approve splitting DPP into two agencies: one dealing with permitting regulations and the other devoted to long-term land-use planning. There were two agencies — the Department of Land Utilization and the Department of Planning — up until 1998, when voters approved an amendment to the Charter combining the two departments as part of former Mayor Jeremy Harris’ vast reorganization plan aimed at streamlining city functions.

The breaking up of DPP was not a direct recommendation from the audit, but Fukunaga said that with the advent of issues involving large-scale houses and illegal vacation rentals, the agency has become too large and saddled with too many responsibilities….

Background: Monster Homes: Auditor Rips Department of Planning and Permitting

read … Council measures seek tougher laws against ‘monster houses’

At Kulani Correctional Facility, a third of the inmates are enrolled in college courses

HNN: … Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo has more GED graduates than any other lockup in the state.

The Chief of Security says it is so successful because it is a stepping stone for prisoners who are who are getting re-integrated into the community.

The prison is fully staffed and there are plenty of beds for the all-male population.

There are currently 172 inmates at KCF but the facility can hold up to 200….

“We do the academic classes for the GED in the evening,” said Education Specialist Robert Li. “Daytime is for the college classes, the college-related vocational training classes. We do quite a lot."…

"Keeping these guys busy as frequently by setting up tournaments, leagues, indoor, outdoor activities,” said Rodriguez. “Everything helps."

Kaipo Dye, the facility’s Farm Manager and Ag Science Instructor, said nationally, 66-percent of inmates will become incarcerated again. But having a two-year degree will drop that by 21-percent….

(1/3 of 172 = 57 in college with 21% recidivism = 12 criminals—but only if they graduate. 115 not in school x 66% recidivism = 76 criminals)

read … At Kulani Correctional Facility, a third of the inmates are enrolled in college courses

PUC to hear contested case on Overpriced Maui solar –battery farm project

MN: … Paeahu Solar, has been proposed for 200 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch land above Maui Meadows. The 15-megawatt solar and 60-megawatt-hour battery project proposed by Canadian-based Innergex Renewables is facing opposition from neighboring residents with a contested case hearing set before the Public Utilities Commission next week….

The project is one of the latest to come down the pipe as Maui accepts increasingly larger solar projects amid a statewide push toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Last year, the island’s first two large-scale solar projects came online — the 2.87-MW Ku’ia Solar in Lahaina and the 2.87-MW South Maui Renewable Resources in Kihei.

Projects are getting bigger, and they’re bringing on batteries. Colorado-based AES Renewable Energy is developing Kuihelani Solar, a 60-MW solar and 240-MWh battery project to be built on as much as 500 acres of former sugar cane fields off Kuihelani Highway in Central Maui.

Paeahu Solar also would have battery storage. And while Maui Meadows residents who live near the project site say they support renewable energy, they’d rather see it built in an industrial area away from homes….

In addition, “people had concerns about having a massive array of solar panels reflecting sunlight or making it even hotter next to their houses,” Collins said.

The coalition’s other main concern is that the price that MECO would pay for electricity from Paeahu is higher than the going market rate for solar and battery projects — 11.68 cents per kilowatt-hour, though Collins believed the levelized price of 12.44 cents was more reflective of what Paeahu would get in the long run. By contrast, the Kuihelani Solar project approved by the PUC earlier this year will cost MECO 8 cents per kWh, among the lowest in the state.

Rates for five other solar-plus-battery projects approved around the same time ranged from 8 cents on the low end for the 30-MW solar, 120-MWh storage Waikoloa Solar on Hawaii island to 10 cents on the high end for the 36-MW, 144-MWh Waiawa Solar and the 52-MW, 208-MWh Ho’ohana Solar 1, both on Oahu.

“This is going to be a 25-year project,” Collins said. “If it’s already overpriced and we’re locking this in for 25 years, Maui ratepayers are basically, in a few years from now, going to be paying too much. . . . That’s another major concern, is that this thing is so overpriced that it’s going to prevent MECO from actually putting more renewable projects online. . . . Instead of putting more energy at less of a cost, they’re buying more energy at more of a cost.”…

Flashback: Lloyds of London Lawsuit Reveals Story Behind Kahuku Windfarm Fires

read … PUC to hear contested case on Maui solar project

Health officials cracking down on unlicensed senior care homes

SA: … DOH has received 114 complaints about unlicensed adult residential care homes, Keith Ridley, chief of DOH’s Office of Health Care Assurance, told lawmakers Tuesday during a briefing before members of the House and Senate at the state Capitol.

The hearing was called by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health and the House Committees on Health and Human Services and Homelessness to receive updates on Act 148.

Department officials say they are poised to issue 13 notices of violation to illegal operators, with more expected.

Of the 114 complaints received by DOH, 74 remain open….

read … Health officials cracking down on unlicensed senior care homes

Natural disasters brought huge loss for Hawaii farms

SA: … A total of 3,894 Hawaii farm acres were damaged or destroyed by natural disasters or weather conditions, primarily macadamia nuts and papayas, in 2018. Cattle losses in 2018 totaled 2,178 head, but twice as many, approximately 4,200, in other categories were lost….

The USDA survey found 1,475 acres of macadamia nuts damaged, along with 705 acres of papaya, 218 acres of taro, 200 acres of commercial floriculture and 1,213 acres of other crops, which includes ones not listed in the questionnaire, such as coffee, sweet potatoes and fruit trees.

For livestock, 2,178 cattle and 124 goats were lost.

Of the crops damaged, only 590 acres, or roughly 15%, were replanted, including 58 acres of floriculture, 109 acres of papaya and 41 acres of vegetables. Some 382 acres of other crops, including coffee and fruit trees, as well as macadamia nuts and taro, were also replanted….

read … Natural disasters brought huge loss for Hawaii farms 

My parents bought their property in Kahala for $5,900

ILind: … When I ran into this receipt, I wondered what that $5,900 from 1942 would be worth in today’s dollars. I turned to the Consumer Price Index Calculator available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It came up with the answer: It would be equal to $90,377.46 in today’s dollars. …

read … My parents bought their property in Kahala for $5,900

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