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Sunday, December 6, 2015
December 6, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:34 PM :: 3265 Views

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US Soccer Champs Cancel -- Aloha Stadium Unsafe Field

Telescope: Will TMT Stick Around for more of the Hawaii Treatment?

SA: The repercussions and fallout from Wednesday’s Thirty Meter Telescope beat-down at the Hawaii state Supreme Court are about as clear as a distant object in the nighttime sky.

But for many the biggest question is this: Will the TMT International Observatory Board, facing years of delay, now pack up its $1.4 billion project on Mauna Kea and search for a more accommodating mountain to conduct its cutting-edge astronomy?

After the court telegraphed its due process objections during oral arguments in August, an official with the California nonprofit conceded the project might face a delay but reaffirmed the board’s commitment to Hawaii.

Asked repeatedly about the future this week, TMT officials would say only they are assessing their next steps….

It’s unclear whether the University of Hawaii, on behalf of TMT, will have to apply for another permit and produce new and costly environmental studies and associated documents, or whether the process would simply start again at the contested case hearing, using the same application as before.

The office of state Attorney General Douglas Chin last week said details about what will be required are still under review.

Whatever Chin decides, the TMT is probably looking at years of delay, perhaps three to five years or even more, considering that the now-invalidated contested case hearing started four years ago.

And the project now faces re-energized and emboldened foes who promise to throw down objections and legal obstacles at every turn.

Then, if the TMT successfully negotiates those land mines, it faces the prospect of protesters once again forming a last line of defense on a mountain they consider sacred….

Simons, who has helped to organize community meetings in hopes of bringing both sides together, said the delay might even be a good thing for the project, considering the current frenzy of opposition.

He said allowing the telescope plan to simmer on low for a few years will decrease community tension and allow clear-headed discourse about science and culture on the mountain. 

(Translation: By then that the legislature would have given OHA its rent money so we can get on with this.)

Reality: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read … Parties weigh TMT’s future

Nai Aupuni Seriously Unraveling

Borreca: Some major parts of the Na‘i Aupuni election designed to set the stage for recognition of a Hawaiian government (fake Indian tribe) appear to be seriously unraveling….

First, after starting the election for delegates to a Hawaiian convention, the sponsoring group, Na‘i Aupuni, extended the closing date of the election to Dec. 21, because as William Meheula, the group’s attorney said, “voters may not have cast their ballots over concerns and questions on the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily stop the vote count.”

Changing vote dates and times is almost always a big no-no and fiddling with the date because of speculation that voters need more time is questionable….

Here is another part of the election rules that, while not part of the lawsuit, is just funky, as in smells bad. Na‘i Aupuni candidates must report who gives them campaign money, but it only has “to be reported after the election.” So much for educating the voters….

Thomas says Na‘i Aupuni’s attempt to move the $2 million in OHA money for the election through a nongovernment group will not work.

“Yes, the money was washed through a nonprofit, set up for the purpose of supporting the argument that this is not a publicly funded election. But come on, the Court would have to be blind to not see the pretense,” Thomas writes….

read … Good news

Guam plebiscite case similar, different from Hawaii

GPDN: A court case in Hawaii related to voting rights and race is similar to a case on Guam, but there are also important differences, an attorney involved with the Guam case said….

Attorney Christian Adams — one of the attorneys representing Guam resident Arnold Davis, who challenged Guam’s pending political status vote, saying it violates his voting rights — spoke in response to the case in Hawaii.

The Guam vote for decolonization is being challenged in federal court for allegedly discriminating against the island’s non-Chamorro voters. The case, filed by Davis, who isn’t Chamorro and who was not allowed to register for the election, is scheduled to go to trial next July.

Adams on Tuesday said the Hawaii case and Guam case are similar, but with some differences.

“Guam is in a very different position because Congress has enacted a Bill of Rights in the Organic Act, which doesn’t exist in Hawaii. Guam has even less ability to restrict the franchise than does Hawaii,” Adams said….

Although local law doesn’t explicitly restrict registration based on ethnicity or ancestry, it defines native inhabitants of Guam as anybody who “became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and descendants of those persons.”

read … Guam

Insiders Now Control All Top UH Positions—No Longer Have Anybody to Blame

Shapiro: The hiring of Nick Rolovich as University of Hawaii head football coach concludes a remake of the UH administrative and athletic hierarchy that’s clearly designed to lower the volume after three years of turmoil following the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco.

The top hires share key qualities: ties to Hawaii and UH, reasonably even personalities, familiarity with the poisonous politics surrounding UH and willingness to work for less than their predecessors….

Lower-cost, lower-ego and lower-drama leadership is a welcome turn as UH seeks to dig out from a long run of tumult and poor decisions that badly damaged the school’s reputation in the community and beyond.

The reshaping began when the Board of Regents hired UH lifer David Lassner as university president, dispensing with the national search that produced the stormy presidencies of Evan Dobelle and M.R.C. Greenwood.

By going in-house with Lassner, who previously ran the UH information technology department, regents obviously were hoping to replicate the relatively calm presidency of David McClain, another well-liked UH insider who kept a steady course between Dobelle and Greenwood….

The important point is that from the regents down, the UH hierarchy seems finally aligned in a common leadership style and management philosophy, key to achieving the strong and stable state university that is so vital to Hawaii’s future….

read … Familiar new hires reflect UH’s desire to restore calm

DHHL needs reform to go along with added funding

SA: The nonprofit Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. argued in its 2007 complaint, filed on behalf of six Native Hawaiians, that the state had fallen short of fulfilling that mandate. Castagnetti agreed, finding that DHHL had been underfunded each year since at least 1992, which amounted to a constitutional violation….

Castagnetti herself was none too complimentary of the job the agency has done. Prior to 2012, she wrote, DHHL officials “breached their trust duties by failing to seek from the Legislature all the funding (DHHL) needs for its administrative and operating budget.”…

Among the many problems: a land-management program offered revocable permits that, critics said, was erratically and unfairly administered, with some awards being made to non-Hawaiians.

More recently strides have been made toward reform of that program specifically. A year ago, the Hawaiian Homes Commission approved a basic framework for a significantly overhauled permit process, requiring competitive bids. That should yield a more transparent operation for the beneficiaries, but continued oversight is imperative….

read … DHHL needs reform to go along with added funding

FACE says ‘No Cap’: Council Should Give Rail Anything it Wants

SA: Bob Nakata and Catherine Graham co-chair the housing task force of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE)….

“City officials are reporting that there is capacity to build 50,000 new workforce housing units in the transit-oriented development area.” 

read … FACE of HART

Maui Council proposes 2016 legislative package

MN: The 2016 Maui County Legislative Package, composed of four state bills, will be formally presented to Speaker of the House Joe Souki of Maui and Senate President Ron Kouchi of Kauai next month.

The Maui County Council is urging the Legislature to allow Hawaii residents the option to indicate disabilities on official identification cards, such as driver's licenses….

The county package also includes a proposal to ban smoking in cars and trucks occupied by children….

A proposal to prohibit the sale of marine life secured by a spear is also part of the county package….

The 2016 Maui County Legislative Package also includes a proposal to authorize each county liquor commission to provide funding for the treatment and prevention of alcohol abuse….

The Hawaii State Association of Counties is also considering a separate legislative package, which would be unanimously endorsed by the Maui County Council, the Hawaii County Council, the Honolulu City Council and Kauai County Council.…all of the counties are seeking a more equitable distribution of transient accommodations tax revenue….

read … Legislative Package

Affordable Housing: Can we blame outsiders for Conditions we Created Ourselves?

MN: Maui County Council Member Bob Carroll, who chairs the council's Land Use Committee, said the issue of local versus off-island competition for Maui's limited housing inventory has surfaced before. He said he has talked to Realtors and has learned that off-island, and in particular Canadian, buyers were purchasing "very high-end," million-dollar homes and, mostly, condos.

"It didn't seem to be something I'd be really excited about (because) it didn't infringe on affordable or market-priced housing for local people," he said Friday.

Now though, after seeing that Mainland and foreign buyers have made 22 percent of the purchases in more-affordable Central Maui, Carroll is concerned.

"It's a trend that's very worrying, but I don't see any solutions," he said, adding that taking away inventory leads to higher prices.

Albert Perez, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, said that the study's regional statistics show Central Maui is among the most affordable prices, but off-island buyers were making their presence felt, and affordable homes "are not going to local people who need them."

Carroll said he's not aware of any state or federal law that would stop off-island buyers from purchasing homes and condos here in a free market. He added that he'd be especially concerned if off-island investors were buying homes in Kahului subdivisions and turning them into vacation rentals.

Terry Tolman, chief staff executive with the Realtors Association of Maui, tamped down some of the local-versus-outsider concern by pointing out that Maui's real estate market has unique characteristics that put local and off-island buyers into separate markets.

Off-island buyers tend to prefer resort areas such as West and South Maui and are more likely to buy condominiums than homes, he said. The different markets aren't easy to see in the study released last week by the Research and Economic Analysis Division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism because it combines home and condo sales into a single number.

MN: Local buyers the minority in Maui real estate market

read … Blame Outsiders?

67-Year Old Building Demolished Without Historic Review

MN: The demolition permit for the old Sevilla store and travel agency building on Mill Street in Wailuku should have been reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Division before being granted, a Planning Department official said Friday….

The demolition permit process apparently should have been more rigorous, which would have taken more time to complete. Normally, demolitions or renovations of structures 50 years or older require a review by the State Historic Preservation Division before the permit can be approved.

Usually, the division cannot stop a demolition, like the Sevilla store, but it can require mitigation efforts, such as photographic documentation and architectural drawings to offer the possibility of rebuilding the structure, said Deputy Planning Director Michele Chouteau McLean.

However, there is an exemption to this requirement, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. David Ige in July. The exemption, Act 224, which was opposed by the Planning Department, allows privately owned, single-family homes or townhouses to bypass the State Historic Preservation Division review as long as the structure is not on a historic places registry and is not in a historic district….

Because the Sevilla store structure was in "a sort of gray area," the county granted an Act 224 exemption….

read … Demolished

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