What Really Is a Minimum Wage?
27 Vacant Seats on Honolulu Neighborhood Boards
Mauna Kea: Removal of Perfectly Good Telescopes is on schedule
HTH: … The decommissioning process for one of five Maunakea telescopes to be removed in the coming decade remains on schedule after the approval last month of several environmental assessments.
(These are perfectly good telescopes that are doing cutting edge scientific work every night. They are being destroyed to satisfy protesters who tell us that nothing will ever satisfy them.)
At a December meeting of the Maunakea Management Board, members approved three analyses of the decommissioning process for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, one of five telescopes to be dismantled in exchange for permitting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope….
Simons said the submillimeter observatory remains on schedule to be removed by the end of 2021.
“Logically, you’d expect the process to be faster, but this is the first one of these we’ve done,” Simons said. “You’ve got to make sure you get it right, and review the process.
“The physical deconstruction will ultimately be relatively quick,” Simons added.
Part of the removal process involves a full site restoration — not only removing the structure itself but also filling its foundation and restoring the terrain to its original topography. Simons said such a project has never been done before at the summit….
CSO is the second of five telescopes to be removed from the summit. The first, the University of Hawaii in Hilo’s 36-inch educational telescope Hoku Ke‘a, was removed in 2018, but the building that housed it on the summit remains.
The former Hoku Ke‘a site is also scheduled to be completely cleared by the end of 2021….
The United Kingdom Infrared Telescope is scheduled to be decommissioned by the end of 2024, while the fourth telescope, the Very Long Baseline Array, will be removed by the end of 2033….
(Meanwhile take a look at what’s going on in the rest of the state….)
read … Removal of observatory on schedule
Next Boondoggle: Burn Taxpayer Money to ‘Boost Construction’
SA: … Construction work in Hawaii is likely to slow next year, but state lawmakers seem inclined to go along with Gov. David Ige’s plan to budget extra money to boost state construction spending and give a lift to the industry….
In recent months the state construction industry also has been “doing great,” Tian said, but the value of private building permits issued for the first 11 months of 2019 was flat….
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said, “We have to make the right investments” to try to even out the dips in the economy….
read … Hawaii looks to boost construction to offset industry slowdown
Legislative Agenda: Advocates rally at the Capitol to demand higher minimum wage
SA: … Faith Action for Community Equity and Raise Up Hawai‘i and other advocates rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday evening to push lawmakers to raise the the hourly wage to $17, from the current minimum of $10.10. The average full-time Hawaii resident making minimum wage makes only $21,000 a year….
Last year House and Senate lawmakers considered bills that would have increased the minimum wage to $15, but the measures died in conference….
read … Advocates rally at the Capitol to demand higher minimum wage
Lawmakers should advance ethics bills
SA: … The state proposals below have been suggested before, but failed. Now, however, is the time to enact reforms to show the people that lawmakers are listening to demands for accountability, ethics and change. The state Legislature should in the 2020 session:
>> Authorize the forfeiture of pension benefits, by court order, for state or county employees who are convicted of an employment-related felony. A bill (House Bill 1264) to do this was introduced in 2019 by House Speaker Scott Saiki and was not objected to by the state Employees’ Retirement System. This is a necessary reform to show that the system is not rewarding bad behavior or shielding its own.
>> Prohibit fundraisers and the solicitation of contributions during the legislative session. Again, a bill (HB 350) to do this was introduced in 2019, again by Saiki. Hawaii’s Legislature is not a full-time legislature, and there are other opportunities to fundraise. Having fundraisers and soliciting contributions during the session, when the focus should be on representing the people, gives the impression that there may be pay-to-play.
>> Prohibit the governor and each county mayor, while holding office, from maintaining any other employment or receiving any emolument. A bill (HB 361) to do this was introduced in 2019, by Saiki. Mayors and the governor are employed full-time in their positions and compensated full-time, and should not have competing outside remunerative interests as a distraction.
At the city level, the City Council should consider a Charter amendment to provide the Honolulu Ethics Commission with more autonomy. Proposed Resolution 19-331 would prohibit any city administration from withholding funding approved by the City Council for the Ethics Commission, hopefully leading to greater decision-making freedoms. This was done for the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.
Clearly, the proposed ideas for improving ethics are not new. The time is now for Hawaii lawmakers to put ethics first to restore the people’s trust in government. If not now, then when?
read … Lawmakers should advance ethics bills
30 years later, it’s the last session for Rep. Cynthia Thielen
SA: … After she was elected to her first, two-year House term in 1990, Thielen earned a reputation as a moderate who sometimes clashed with her caucus — fellow Republicans unsuccessfully tried to get her kicked off the House Judiciary Committee during a special session in 2013 before a vote on a marriage equality bill that eventually passed.
“I like to say I’m a progressive Republican,” Thielen told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in her fourth-floor office in the state Capitol. “… Sometimes this place isn’t liberal enough. … I think people will miss hearing a liberal Republican’s voice.”
Thielen considers herself an “Eisenhower Republican,” which she defines as a Republican “who takes care of fiscal issues and leaves personal issues to the individuals.”
In the current Legislature, Thielen is one of only five Republicans in the 51-member House, with only one Republican in the 25-member Senate….
read … 30 years later, it’s the last session for Rep. Cynthia Thielen
Opening Day: Maybe save the party until the work is done
Cataluna: … Every year at the start of the state legislative session, it feels like the same obligatory ritual that everyone kind of hates but goes along with anyway, like having to put on a show of appeasing petulant little gods. Here’s some manapua, Mr. Senator. I brought you your favorite mochi from last year, Madam Representative. I hope you like your maile, my liege. I grew it on the top of Ka‘ala special for you and tended it each day until it was ready for your neck. Yuck….
read … Maybe save the party until the work is done
New names, familiar faces raise interest in Honolulu’s high-stakes mayoral race
Borreca: …He is the earnest, forcefully gesturing fellow who pops up most nights during the KGMB-TV 6 p.m. newscast with a commentary on local issues.
Blangiardi has strongly advocated for the divisive Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island, saying halting it “may make a few people feel good for the moment — while damaging Hawaii’s reputation and economy for years to come, and doing literally nothing to address the legitimate grievances of the Hawaiian people.”
Blangiardi also is a strong supporter of the overbudget city rail project, saying in one commentary: “The city must also be more creative about other sources of money such as special fees or taxes on rail-related commercial development.” It should not, Blangiardi warns, be allowed to stop at Middle Street, urging that the whole promised project must be delivered.
That sort of forcefulness will come into play if the retiring president and general manager of Hawaii News Now does jump into the race for mayor as a well-recognized political newbie….
read … New names, familiar faces raise interest in Honolulu’s high-stakes mayoral race
Stolen Car and Murder in Homeless Camp Chop Shop Owned by Agribusiness Development Corp
HNN: … HPD says the victim, a woman in her 30s, was found along a dirt farm road, talking to a friend on the phone when she got into an argument with someone she apparently knew.
“The friend is on the phone and she hears what sounds like two vehicles are getting into a car accident and also a gun shot,” Lt. Deena Thoemmes of the Honolulu Police Department said.
Multiple police sources say the woman was shot in the head inside the vehicle.
Two vehicles were found at the scene, at least one of them appeared to have been stolen, HPD said. The second was unoccupied.
Investigators thoroughly canvassed the property, which is now owned by the state. The property has had a troubled history. The tall grasses conceal hundreds of junked cars and it has been occupied by squatters for years.
Area residents agree that the problems, though hidden from the main view, are clear and present.
“It’s hidden away from the public’s view. There’s always a potential for a dangerous situation,” Alesia Au, former Wahiawa Neighborhood Board Member, said. “It attracts the wrong elements.”…
read … Murder investigation launched after woman shot in Central Oahu
Released Inmates Become Homeless Drug Addicts in Hilo Neighborhood Near jail
HTH: … Officials from the state Departments of Public Safety and Accounting and General Services came to Hilo Thursday night to brief the public about the planned new housing module at Hawaii Community Correctional Center’s Punahele Street site.
What they got instead is an earful, mostly from angry neighbors who think the expansion — originally planned to house 144 inmates but scaled back to 48 because of funding — will do little, if anything, to ease chronic overcrowding at HCCC, and will make their neighborhood more dangerous….
Designed to hold 226 inmates, the Big Island’s only jail, which has two Hilo campuses, had a Nov. 30 population of 428 — 342 men and 86 women. It is the most crowded correctional center in the state….
Rycraft said the overcrowding “is not just a burden on the jail, it’s a burden on the neighboring community.”
“I urge all of you to take a look at that floor plan,” she said. “… Forty-eight beds for $13 million? I think that we can do a whole lot better for our inmates and our prison staff than what we’re doing with that building and on that budget.”…
One woman complained of recently released inmates causing trouble in the neighborhood, including one who entered her property and used her garden hose to bathe himself.
“I found drug paraphernalia in my yard, and not just crutches. Like bottles of some sort of pills and pipes. … I have three daughters …,” she said. “I already won’t let my kids play in the yard by themselves. They have to be supervised.”…
Meanwhile: 19-time loser out on street does it again
read … Community speaks out against jail expansion
Soft on Crime: Felon with 4 Guns Gets 3 Months
MN: … Police reported finding two loaded semiautomatic handguns, an unloaded revolver and a bolt-action rifle, 40.33 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 4.27 grams of burned crystal methamphetamine scrapings, 76.78 grams of marijuana and four types of ammunition, as well as paraphernalia associated with drug use and distribution.
He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug and being a felon in possession of a firearm, with other charges dismissed in exchange for his pleas.
In sentencing Inciong, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said she was concerned about the quantity of drugs found, as well as Inciong’s prior criminal history.
“You’ve been around the block more times than I can count,” Loo told Inciong. “You’ve been on probation for prior drug offenses, firearm offenses. You’ve actually served a term of imprisonment. …
According to court records, charges were dismissed against Inciong’s girlfriend, Ramona Fernandez…
read … Defendant gets three months in jail for possession of drugs, guns
5 Alkies Wearing Ankle Bracelets to Detect Alcohol
KHON: … Authorities are now using ankle monitors that can tell whether users are drinking. If the monitor senses alcohol, the users are going to jail.
The program, also known as SCRAM, is given out to people who have been charged with habitual driving under the influence (DUI). It started in 2019.
“The ultimate purpose is public safety, of course. You’re a habitual DUI. You have problem, and we don’t want you out drinking and driving and possibly causing a death,” said Dwight Nadamoto, Acting Prosecuting Attorney.
Users are court-ordered into the program by the judge. As a condition of their bail, they agree not to drink alcohol. Also, while using the ankle monitoring device, they have to pay for it. Price can range from $10 to $20 a day for people in the program.
So far 13 people on Oahu have joined the the program. Eight have completed it, and Five are currently on it right now.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said so far, no one has tested positive for alcohol while wearing the device ….
HNN: Records show alleged drunk driver in a deadly Mililani crash is a repeat offender
read … Prosecuting Attorney’s Office looking to expand alcohol monitoring program