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Tuesday, January 07, 2020
January 7, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:33 PM :: 2285 Views

DHHL Leaseholds--many vacant or abandoned

Larry Ellison in Talks to Buy HECO's Lanai Grid

Issues for 2020: Out with the Old and In with the New?

Two Judicial Vacancies on Oahu

At 100, Jones Act Looks Old and Wrinkly 

Shakeup afoot at the federal office that exposed the Kealohas’ criminal behavior

HNN: … Peter Wolff, the head of the federal public defender’s office is being pushed out after 24 years, in a move many in the legal community are questioning….

lawyers were stunned to learn that a committee of judges with the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, were not recommending a seventh term for Wolff, after his current term expires in July.

The federal public defender position is one Wolff has held since 1996 and many believe the sudden change is connected to the public corruption scandal.

It was Wolff’s office and his chief deputy public defender, Alexander Silvert, who first exposed the crimes of ex Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, once a high ranking deputy prosecutor.

Silvert was defending a Kealoha relative, Gerard Puana, who was being prosecuted for stealing the Kealoha’s mailbox. Silvert found evidence that Puana was actually framed for the crime because the Kealohas were stealing money from family members.

Silvert took his evidence to the FBI, launching the massive federal case that resulted in convictions of the Kealohas and two police officers last year.

“It’s a strange coincidence and it deserves to be looked at it really does, why now?” asked Ken Lawson.

Victor Bakke calls it retaliation, “Those people had power.”

It’s unlikely we’ll ever know why Wolff isn’t being renewed, the entire process is secret. We can’t even get names of those who submitted testimony for or against Wolff.

Wolff will remain with the office through the end of his term unless he’s asked to leave earlier.

read … Shakeup afoot at the federal office that exposed the Kealohas’ criminal behavior

School Construction Projects ‘Political’—Only in Hawaii

CB: … At the end of the last legislative session in May, many Hawaii Department of Education schools had plenty to cheer about. House Bill 1259 appropriated nearly $295 million for capital improvement projects to certain schools over the next fiscal year.

Approved requests included $2 million for a new performing arts center at Nanakuli High and Intermediate, $1.7 million for new baseball infield turf at Kailua High and $3 million for an all-weather synthetic track at Kealakehe High on Big Island.

That money was on top of $110 million for repair and maintenance projects statewide and $61.5 million for various capital improvement projects, such as building new classrooms to account for growing student populations or new athletic facilities to comply with federal laws.

But despite the infusion of cash to some DOE schools for much needed improvements and upgrades to their grounds, it’s not clear how those projects got the green light ahead of others. It’s a perpetual concern the Board of Education is trying to address.

The BOE has asked DOE leadership to come up with specific criteria for executing both capital improvement and repair and maintenance projects. It is suggesting that projects should be prioritized by safety and accessibility, followed by a school’s socioeconomic and academic needs, according to a Nov. 21 BOE memo.

The DOE is expected to share its new criteria by Feb. 20.

An independently commissioned statewide facility master plan from last April said the DOE’s “funding requests are a detailed menu of projects allowing politics to drive decisions rather than common values and objective data.”

“Without a strategic plan, the result has been sustained inequitable allocation of public resources, with some students benefiting at the expense of others who are under-represented,” the report stated.

Hawaii may be the only state in the country where the Legislature approves school capital improvement projects on a line item basis, rather than a specific priority list submitted by the Department of Education. It’s also not clear how the lump sums it doles out for such projects are distributed by the DOE.

The DOE has requested another $229 million in lump sum capital improvement money in its supplement budget request for fiscal 2021…

read … Hawaii Board Of Education Wants More Transparency In School Construction Projects

Audit: Honolulu DPP Can’t Get the Job Done Permits Languish for Years

CB: … Property owners seeking building permits in Honolulu face months of delays that hold up residential projects by months and commercial projects even longer, according to a new city audit released on Monday.

Among its problems, the Department of Planning and Permitting has excessive review times and lax controls that allow private companies to “game” its appointment system, disadvantaging others, according to Acting Auditor Troy Shimasaki’s report.

As a result, an average of 2,513 outstanding permit applications roll over every year, the auditor found. That’s despite the fact that permit applications decreased 21% from 2014 to 2018.

“The Department of Planning and Permitting’s processes for reviewing building permit applications are unable to support Hawaii’s building industry demands,” the auditor’s office said in a summary of its report….

News Release: Kym Pine Statement

Nov 15, 2019: Monster Homes: Auditor Rips Department of Planning and Permitting

read … Audit: Honolulu Can’t Meet Building Industry Demands For Permits

Money: Telescope Protesters Address Astronomy Conference

HNN: … The convention comes as the project remains at a standstill. Protesters are no longer blocking the access road to the summit, and Hawaii County says construction won’t start before February.

The kiai, or those who consider themselves protectors of Mauna Kea, say they’ve been given the green light to speak at the astronomy conference on Wednesday morning.

Noe Noe Wong-Wilson says there are no plans to protest the event.

“We’ve said from the very beginning, this isn’t a fight with the astronomy community. It’s about our stand to protect our mauna from a building that’s too large.”  (Unless OHA gets $50M rent.  Then its OK.)

Also at the conference, Imiloa Astronomy Center is holding daily talks about Mauna Kea.

Kalepa Baybayan, its navigator and a TMT supporter, says he's disappointed the project is not moving forward for now.

"I'm disappointed in leadership. I'm not going to hang it on any particular government entity, but I think, I think leadership needs to step up," he said.

TMT says its next payment to the THINK fund is in February. It’s now at $6 million with half a million per year….

read .… TMT takes center stage at astronomy conference as talks with governor planned

YB Seeks $27M Rate Hike

KITV: … Shipping company looking to raise rates by 34%, asking for public input  The company says it would generate $27 million in revenue to maintain operations and make a profit…..

read … $27M out of your pocket

For first time since 2012, Honolulu saw its annual median home price drop (but not by much)

HNN: … The median home price on Oahu grew to $820,000 in December, up 4% from a year ago, new figures from the Honolulu Board of Realtors show.

Median sale prices also grew 6.8% for condos ― to $425,000.

But while December went out with a bang, the median sales price for a single-family home in 2019 ― $789,000 ― was down .1% from the year before.

Though tiny, it was the first decline in the annual median sales price on Oahu since 2012.

Condo prices continued to grow, however, ending the year at a median of $425,000.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors notes that the last 10 years have been a “period of recovery” for Oahu’s housing market ― with a number of records set.

In 2010, the median price of a single-family home on Oahu was $592,750….

read … For first time since 2012, Honolulu saw its annual median home price drop (but not by much)

26% of Kailua TVRs Destroyed

CB: … More than 600 vacation units were on the market in Kailua as of November, the authority reported, using data gathered by a private firm, Transparent Intelligence, Inc. It was a 26% drop from the year before, to 636 from 854, a drop of 218 units…. 

KITV: City issues 260 citations for illegal short term vacation rentals across the island

read … Vacation Rentals Are Still Thriving In Kailua

With Vote by Mail Coming, Maui has no Chief Election Officer

MN: …New Maui County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee hopes to have candidates lined up for the Maui County clerk and deputy clerk positions — the county’s top two elections officials — in about two weeks.

She called the situation a “serious bind.”

Former Maui County Clerk Josiah Nishita and his deputy, Maggie Clark, resigned their posts last month and are now headed for positions in the administration of Mayor Michael Victorino. The resignations may have been the tipping point for the council as it unseated (crony capitalist biofool schemer and anti-gmo nut) Kelly King as chairwoman last month.

… “We are in a serious bind here,” Lee said Monday afternoon. “The mayor knows we are in a pickle, he’s trying to be flexible and help us out.”

To compound the situation, Lee noted that the elections administrator in the Office of the County Clerk also recently retired, leaving a larger management void.

“Every day (without a clerk) pushes us back. So I would say we are going to be moving on this as super quickly as we can,” Lee said. “And by the time we have our chair’s meeting, I’m hoping to have some viable candidates to present to the council members for their consideration.”…

Lee said preparations already are getting underway for the elections with staff soon to be sent to Oahu for training….

read … In election year, search for new county clerk underway

Routes canceled as Hele-On bus shortage intensifies

HTH: …There aren’t even enough daily rental buses from the tour bus companies, the usual source of fill-in buses for the beleaguered agency. That’s because the federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires working wheelchair lifts or ramps on public fixed-route buses, while private tour bus companies operate on different rules….

Hawaii County was already sued for not having accessible buses. A settlement with a Hele-On bus rider who couldn’t get his motorized wheelchair onto a fixed-route bus required the county to offer options, including the Kakoo paratransit service, offering door-to-door transportation for those riders who fill out a form and qualify. That began in 2016 in Kona and Hilo.

Since last week, Mass Transit has been relying on the county Civil Defense Agency to send out daily updates, saying which routes will be canceled. Mass Transit is also updating its website with the information.

“We consult with our contract provider Polynesian Adventure Tours, Roberts Tours and Transportation and Akita’s for daily coverage of bus routes,” Transit Administrator Brenda Carreira said Monday. “Once we know what routes are covered, then I know which routes have to be canceled.”

Last week, five or six routes had to be canceled each day, and so far this week, it’s down to just two routes, Intra-Kona and Pahoa 3….

Despite the availability of federal grants that would have provided buses while costing the county nothing, there were no grant applications or purchases since 2014, she said last year.

It’s not known how long this last-minute notification system will be in place, but Carreira hopes to have four new buses on the routes by March….

read … Routes canceled as Hele-On bus shortage intensifies

Guam: Identity vs Reality

GDP: … FestPac leaders had four years to raise funds to send a team to Hawaii to "help us determine who we are;" and sat on their hands doing nothing, counting on getting local funding.

Now at the last minute the senators in the 35th Legislature have made their positions about what is more important for the people, safety and security in their homes, or sending 100 people on a Hawaiian vacation paid for by taxpayers?

For most of the senators; sending 100 people to Hawaii is more important than buying a dozen drug detection dogs to help stem the tide of the meth epidemic that is destroying families on our island every day. It is more important than hiring 10 badly needed social workers to help families deal with the carnage caused when homes are broken because one or more of the adults have become addicted to meth. It is more important than purchasing 10 badly needed patrol cars to get more police out into the community to help prevent burglaries and home invasions, and cut police response time from hours to minutes.

Like it or not, the meth epidemic has had a strong impact on our island's culture.

We no longer feel safe in our homes and villages as a result of the increases of violent crime and home invasions. We no longer allow our children to roam village streets fearing kidnapping, rape, and death. We no longer feel safe as we drive in our cars so we now lock the doors to protect ourselves against carjacking.

We are buying guns and learning to use them. We are buying and installing security cameras in our homes, and weekly we are seeing the videos of burglaries posted on line in an effort to catch the burglars.

Before we start spending taxpayer dollars to strengthen our identity, we should spend them making people safer so they will be around to appreciate our identity…

read … In defense of our people

Man fatally shot by police in Kailua was work furlough escapee

HNN: … A man fatally shot by police in Kailua on Monday afternoon was a work furlough escapee who had been on the run since November, sources said.

The shooting happened about 3:30 p.m. at Aikahi Gardens….

CB: Honolulu Police Official Says Suspect Shot Because ‘He Was Not Compliant’

KITV: Identified as 33-year-old Dallas Pearce. 

2016: Wanted Fugitive: Dallas Pearce--no-bail retake warrant for failure to comply with terms and condition of his parole.

Meanwhile in Today’s News:

read … Man fatally shot by police in Kailua was work furlough escapee

Homeless have Elitist Attitude

WHT: … Kona has been my home for over 40 years. I have always loved it and watched it grow with interest. Of course, changes are always occurring, most for the good, but some not at all positive.

Perhaps the most dramatic and traumatic change in all the years I have lived here is the onslaught of the homeless and their elitist attitudes. As a long time working registered nurse, I am particularly concerned about the lack of proper hygiene displayed by these hostile and often aggressive individuals.

Yes. I know that mental illness plays a part in the behavior of the homeless, but there is also rampant alcohol and drug addiction. Help is often proffered from the public and private sectors, but often refused. Many homeless want all the advantages of living in our beautiful tropical paradise, but refuse to take any responsibility for their own support. Rather, they aggressively insist that we taxpaying and productive members of this society support them and often confront us in public areas, demanding food, money, and whatever else they think they deserve for free.

The criminal behavior of the homeless is rampant. Robbing, beating, stabbing, and rape are evidently focused on many of us who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time….

Providing clean shelter, food, and health care on demand for these homeless will in a short time only create a concentrated slum for those who do not want to conform on any level….

read … Kona being taken over by homeless

Volunteers wanted for annual homeless Point-in-Time count

HNN: … The annual homeless point-in-time count is set to begin and volunteers are needed.

The results of the count will help the state to get federal funds to fight the homeless crisis.

Volunteers are tasked with reaching out to the homeless population on Oahu. Previous counts have required volunteers to ask homeless to complete a simple survey.

The numbers and details of the count are then reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Interested volunteers are asked to click here to get more information….

read … Volunteers wanted for annual homeless Point-in-Time count

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