Will 2020 be the year of an Hawaii Airport Corporation?
Let's unite to reform Jones Act
Auditor: Insurers Already Cover Rape Victim Support
Hawaii 5th Highest Champagne Taxes in USA
Mauna Kea Total: 8,324 Tickets, 78 arrests
Rep Saiki: Nothing has been Resolved by Kim’s Deal with Protesters
HNN: … Friday was moving day at Mauna Kea. Hawaii County trucks brought in heavy equipment. Workers rolled out black ground covering over an old lava road and used gravel material to create a smoother surface for the activists’ kupuna tent….
Down came tarps while chairs and cots were stacked.
Activists agreed to move their kupuna tent to the side of the Mauna Kea Access Road after Mayor Harry Kim made assurances that the Thirty Meter Telescope would not build and there would be no law enforcement for at least until the end of February.
"Today is really a day of an example of of how we work together," said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, TMT opponent and kupuna spokesperson.
"When we do eventually leave this place, they (the county) will lift all of this material up and lift the filler up as well and everything will be returned to its former beauty," she added.
Despite the kupuna tent moving to the side of the road, protesters insist they won't leave until TMT leaves….
Mayor Harry Kim says after the Governor removed state law enforcement and told him it was the county's responsibility to clear the blocked roadway, Kim felt the county and its police would be outnumbered by protesters.
"I thought at this time it would not be impractical but almost very very difficult mission that would involve using physical force because I don't have the manpower to assign 2 or 3 guys to carry each one off," he said….
"If Mayor Kim feels Hawaii County needs help in dealing with this then he should say so," said State Rep. Scott Saiki, a TMT supporter.
(Translation: I am calling BS on Harry Kim.)
Critics have their doubts as both the Mayor and activists say this is the peaceful way forward while talks continue.
"I'm not really sure what the deal accomplishes because all it does is temporarily push these questions aside for a couple of months until February so really nothing has been resolved," said Saiki….
read … Moving day at Mauna Kea after temporary truce announced
The price of protest: one Hawaii Island company's experience
PBN: … Among the casualties of the five-month standoff between anti-TMT protestors, who have blocked access to the summit of Mauna Kea since July, and the state of Hawaii over construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope are local small businesses. Pat Wright, owner of Mauna Kea Summit Adventures, said that his small business that takes customers up the Mauna Kea summit to stargaze has been entirely shut down since July 15, up until the road reopened temporarily for a few nights this week. He was able to schedule two tours in that time, which is nowhere near his normal operating capacity.
"We had to terminate our entire staff nearly six months ago, and then scrambled to find staff to reopen," Wright told PBN. "We cannot reopen at full capacity yet because we simply don't have the staff. Most of them have found other jobs, because they needed to pay the bills."
Mauna Kea Summit Adventures had 12 employees before the shut down, many of which had worked for Wright for more than 10 years.
"In that time I had to put a plan together to permanently close the company after 37 years of operation," Wright said. "I set a date and if the road hadn't opened by that day, it would be the end." ….
KHON: Mauna Kea and the Mauna Kea visitor’s center once again open to the public
read … The price of protest: one Hawaii Island company's experience
Congressman calls for stricter regulations on tour helicopters amid third fatal crash this year
KHON: … Tour helicopters and small aircraft operations are downright dangerous according to Congressman Ed Case. He said the lack of regulation in the industry is causing deaths that could be prevented after the latest fatal crash on Kauai.
“The bottom line is tour helicopters and small aircraft are not safe,” Case said after the wreckage of the helicopter missing since Thursday evening was found in Koke’e on Kauai.
It’s the third fatal crash in Hawaii this year….
read … Congressman calls for stricter regulations on tour helicopters amid third fatal crash this year
Maui County Council overrides Victorino’s property tax veto
MN: … The Maui County Council voted 7 to 2 Friday afternoon to override Mayor Michael Victorino’s veto of a real property tax reform bill that would set new tax classifications (so that taxes can be more easily increased.)….
Slated to take effect next fiscal year, Bill 59 changes the homeowner class to “owner-occupied” and puts parcels with dwellings that do not have a home exemption in a “non-owner-occupied” class.
Under the new classifications, the non-owner-occupied group includes agricultural and rural-zoned improved land with dwelling (affecting more than 4,000 properties); conservation-zoned improved with dwelling (more than 90); condominiums that are second homes or are rented long-term (more than 7,700); and vacant land condominiums not zoned commercial, industrial or hotel (more than 950).
Victorino said he objects to the council’s combining properties with dwellings in the current agricultural, conservation, apartment and rental classifications into the new non-owner-occupied group.
Combining the classifications sparked concerns because the four classifications currently have different tax rates. If they are combined, they would be under a single rate.
The current rates of the four classifications are residential ($5.60), agricultural ($5.94), apartment ($6.31) and conservation ($6.43).
Meanwhile, Victorino signed Bill 58 last week, which gives options and flexibility to set tiers at the same, similar or different rates.
read … County Council overrides Victorino’s property tax veto
Maui Council Mishandling of Lahaina Injection Wells Case a Key Issue in 7-2 Ouster of King
MN: The Maui County Council voted 7 to 2 Friday to elect Council Member Alice Lee chairwoman, replacing Kelly King, who recently resigned from the post to head the new council committee on Climate Action and Resilience.
King announced the move last week. The changes will become effective Thursday.
Two opposing votes came from King and Council Member Shane Sinenci. Sinenci has said King is a mentor who shares his “aloha aina” values.
During the vote, King said she hoped Lee wouldn’t take her opposition personally. The outgoing chairwoman added that she takes issue with Lee disagreeing with the majority of members who favor the county settling the Lahaina wastewater injection well case that’s pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court….
Lee acknowledged after Friday’s meeting that council members and staff expressed dissatisfaction with the sudden resignations of County Clerk Josiah Nishita and Deputy County Clerk Maggie Clark.
Nishita, who has taken a new job with Mayor Michael Victorino’s cabinet as deputy managing director, was at Friday’s meeting to assist with the transition.
Lee said council members and staff worried about how upcoming elections would function with new clerks. Others pointed to strained relationships with King and other staff.
When asked about possible dissatisfaction with her leadership during an interview Dec. 20, King said: “There’s been a lot of issues from day one, there is always the jealousies, the people who wanted the position, people who are picking on every little thing just trying to make a point….”
MN: Kelly King Legacy of Empty Eco-Resolutions Hollow Gestures
read … Alice Lee is officially new council chairwoman
Cane Smoke Activists Launch Maui’s year of fire
MN: … Police arrested a 28-year-old homeless man as a suspect in a wildfire in July that scorched 9,000 acres after starting in Waikapu and spreading to Maalaea and north Kihei. Another man was arrested as a suspect in another brush fire that burned 5 acres near Hana Highway and Airport Access Road in July.
A fire that burned about 80 acres in Kihei in July was started by an 18-year-old man who told police he had been smoking marijuana when embers from his pipe ignited the brush, police said….
More than five times as many acres were blackened by Maui County wildfires this year compared to 2018, fueled in part by fallow former sugar cane fields and weather, including record-breaking heat, fire officials said Friday.
The 25,000 acres that burned in “a very active fire season this year” is the most acreage in recent years, said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro.
In comparison, he said 3,900 acres burned last year, 14,000 acres burned in 2016, and 8,000 acres burned in 2010.
In 2005, the burned acreage totaled 1,300….
read … 2019 was Maui’s year of fire
Hawaii's first mobile homeless center has helped 40 people find shelter, mostly families
KITV: … Hawaii's first mobile homeless center is being hailed a success, two weeks after opening at Waipahu Cultural Garden Park.
Honolulu police officers who work with homeless residents say it fills an important need in the community….
The center uses a triage format to help homeless residents, giving them food and a temporary roof for a few days, as outreach workers find them permanent shelter.
So far, the center has found shelter for more than 40 people, most from Waipahu. Others came from Kaka'ako, Pearl City, Ewa Beach and Waianae.
Among them -- three families -- one with eight members.
Having officers on site around the clock makes the center appealing for those with young children.
"That has provided a safe option for them, instead of waiting out in the streets and parks waiting for some type of long term housing," said HPD Capt. Mike Lambert…
The center is open 24/7-- on holidays, rain or shine -- and was a welcome place on a wet and windy Christmas.
"The inclement weather actually made it a more attractive option," Lambert said. "And because of that, it created an opportunity for us to actually place them in shelter, so that would not have been an opportunity had we not been here."
Before the center opened, a nearby encampment of about 20 people was cleared and remains clear….
After 90 days in Waipahu, HONU will move to a park in the McCully-Moiliili area….
read … Hawaii's first mobile homeless center has helped 40 people find shelter, mostly families
Josh Green, ACLU: Stop Forcing the Homeless to Accept Shelter
SA: … The email was issued to the media Friday by the ACLU but listed Lt. Gov. Josh Green and about a dozen other prominent individuals as well as a diverse set of groups from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i to the NAACP Honolulu chapter and Unite Here Local 5, the hotel employees union. Green and Caldwell are potential 2022 gubernatorial candidates….
The email referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to decline to hear a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that struck down a Boise, Idaho, law that regulates camping and sleeping in public places….
(The Boise case only applies to situations where no shelter is available. Here there are shelter spaces open every night because the homeless refuse to accept them unless forced.)
Information provided by city officials indicated enforcement of the city Stored Property Ordinance and Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance took place Tuesday in a series of urban Honolulu neighborhoods that included Kapahulu, Kapiolani and Moiliili.
(OK. Multiply by 100.)
“At the same time, our primary concern is the health and safety of all people including those who are experiencing homelessness, so when we do these enforcement operations, it’s also an opportunity to offer people a safe place of refuge whether that’s shelter or our new HONU program — homeless outreach and navigation to unsheltered persons that’s available 24/7 — and that includes transportation,” Alexander said. “So we shouldn’t just look at it from the side of enforcement. This is also a good opportunity to offer people that need help a real option that they may not be aware of or they may be ready to avail themselves of.”
As for the Supreme Court’s recent decision, Alexander (completely destroyed Josh Green’s argument) reiterated the city’s position that it conducts enforcement actions only when and where there is available shelter space.
“Mayor Caldwell wants to make sure that when we have to enforce an area, that we give real options to human beings,” Alexander said. “We want to help people, and that applies even more so during the season of joy and celebration. We want people off the streets where they can get a shower, be received with dignity, have a meal, and that’s true at one of our shelters or at our new HONU operation.”…
KITV: ACLU says Honolulu's "midnight homeless sweeps" unconstitutional, cruel during holidays
LINK: ACLU Email with list of people calling for homeless to remain homeless
read … Soft on Homelessness
Child Molester Gets Second Chance—Does it Again
HTH: … Ryan Queja was indicted in August on two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a minor who was at least 14 years old but less than 16 at the time of the assault….
He was also charged with witness tampering for “intentionally engaging in conduct to induce a witness or a person he believed was about to be called as a witness to testify falsely or withhold any testimony,” according to the indictment.
On Tuesday, Queja changed his plea to guilty of one count of first-degree sexual assault with a minor. The other two charges were dropped in the plea agreement.
In February 2011, he pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree sexual assault and third-degree attempted sexual assault. He was sentenced to 24 months incarceration to be served intermittently with a minimum of three months each year and 900 hours of community service.
Queja, a registered sex offender, was still serving his intermittent sentence for the 2011 sexual assault when he allegedly re-offended in 2017. He was released on probation for the earlier assault in December 2018.
His probation on the first offense was revoked and he will be resentenced in that case on Feb. 24 by Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim. Kim will also sentence him that day for the latest case….
read … Soft on Child Molesters