Nai Aupuni ‘Constitution’ Dictated by Department of Interior?
Honolulu Charter Commission to Discuss Rail-Related Proposals Friday
Impact of Jones Act Shipping on Hawaii Cost of Living? House Refuses to Study Issue
Caldwell, Liberal West Coast Mayors, Hope to Exploit Homelessness for Federal Megabucks
Hawaii Republicans ready for March 8 Presidential caucus
HNN: … The caucuses will be held at 45 locations across the state on March 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Unlike caucuses in other states, which can be long and laborious, Hawaii's is quite simple.
"There's just one ballot, and it’s for one office, and it's president of the United States," Rohlfing said.
So who will Hawaii's Republicans vote for? Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore says front-runner Donald Trump might do better in the islands than expected for a fairly moderate blue state.
"Some people have said Trump might not do so well in Hawaii. I'm not so sure that's true," he said. "I think there's a lot of energy around his campaign. He's clearly done well in very, very blue states. His best state last night was Massachusetts." …
For the complete list of locations for the Republican caucus, click here.
Hawaii's Democratic caucus is set for March 26 at 1 p.m.
read … Caucus
Contractor: Hawaii DoT Using Lawsuit to Cover up Incompetence
DBN: Ciber Inc. and the Hawaii Department of Transportation continue to battle over a troubled computer system overhaul project, trading lawsuit claims of $17 million owed, breach of contract and fraudulent billing on the project….
Ciber says its progress on upgrading HDOT's "antiquated" systems was stymied by HDOT failing to complete parts of overhaul it was obligated to handle and stopping payment….
Hawaii's First Circuit Court last month rejected Ciber motions to throw out Hawaii's fraud claim and ordered Ciber turn over documents for legal discovery, allowing both sides of the case to go forward. Two of HDOT's other motions on negligent misrepresentation and good faith and good dealing were dismissed. The judge also declined HDOT's request for an early ruling in its favor.
The transportation agency Wednesday sent out a press release lauding the judge's decision to keep its fraud claims against Ciber alive.
“This ruling marks a big step forward in the state’s case and we will continue to fight on behalf of Hawaii’s residents,” said Ford Fuchigami, HDOT director. “It also solidifies our commitment to holding contractors accountable when they do not deliver what was promised and violate the public’s trust.”…
Klein dismissed the HDOT publicity as “just a vain attempt to recapture momentum that was lost when their previous case was thrown out. They’re trying to gin this up to being more than a breach of contract case.”
In October, Ciber succeeded in getting the same court to reject HDOT's first attempt at pursuing a fraud lawsuit. The court ordered HDOT to pay$16,500 in Ciber's legal fees in that case.
read … Ciber accused of fraud
Emergency? Lingle Built Shelter Space for 650 Homeless, Ige 20
SA: ….The state is dangerously close to the point where continuing to declare homelessness an emergency is no longer acceptable to justify why critical steps are being skipped and contracts are being awarded without proper bidding processes. Further, emergency extensions glaringly highlight the failure of government officials to make headway on problems via normal courses of action. The homeless proclamations have allowed the state to funnel money quickly to numerous projects:
>> Distributing $312,500 in increased funding for Oahu and up to $250,000 for neighbor islands for Housing First programs to house chronically homeless people with alcohol, drug and mental health issues.
>> Executing a contract with Aloha United Way to distribute $4.6 million in rental and utility assistance. AUW also will provide a centralized 211 phone system to better direct the homeless to appropriate agencies, and commission a study to look at three specific homeless populations.
>> Increasing the number of beds at Kauai County’s only full-service emergency shelter from 19 to 39.
Against the overall scope of 7,000-plus homeless, however, grander results are needed — not a new study, improving a hotline and 20 additional beds.
When Gov. Linda Lingle signed emergency proclamations addressing homelessness starting in July 2006, that helped create the Next Step Shelter in Kakaako and transitional shelters on the Leeward Coast, among other initiatives. Back then, the homeless proclamation also was extended numerous times. Under her fourth supplemental proclamation, the goal was to complete work on three shelters that ended up providing more than 200 living units — space for 650 homeless people. Concrete goals.
Specific projects should be outlined if Ige pursues further homeless proclamations. Under the current one, it includes Maui County’s effort to establish a long-term housing project in Wailuku, and extends to “all counties for the repair and maintenance of existing county shelters.” Such loose wording opens the door to favoritism without procedural checks….
(Math: 20/650 = 0.03)
read … Ige = 3% of Lingle
Senators Kill Bills To Elect Judges, Create Legislative Term Limits
CB: Bills to elect judges and limit the number of terms that state lawmakers can serve are likely dead this legislative session. But a measure that would let voters elect the state attorney general is still alive.
The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, indefinitely deferred Senate Bill 2753 and Senate Bill 2239 on Wednesday.
There was strong opposition (from downtown lawyers) to SB 2239, introduced by Keith-Agaran and seven other senators. The bill proposed a constitutional amendment requiring judges to be elected to six-year terms instead of being appointed….
read … Kill Bills
Residency: Josh Green Lives and Works on Oahu but Says he Still Occasionally Visits his Kona District
CB: Calvin Say, the House Speaker Emeritus, and Brickwood Galuteria, Senate Majority Caucus Leader, have each survived repeated legal challenges claiming they don’t actually live in the Oahu districts that elected them.
Residency questions have surfaced about Kai Kahele, the son of the late Sen. Gil Kahele, who was appointed to fill his Hilo seat just last month.
Now consider the case of Sen. Josh Green, who has served in the Legislature since 2004 and currently represents District 3, the Kona-Kau area of the Big Island.
There is a lot of talk at the Capitol that Green does not spend a whole lot of time on the Big Island and might actually reside here on Oahu. Some complain that he ignores the needs of constituents and that he’s interested in higher office — something he has said publicly — and he has a lot of campaign money should he decide to make the jump.
Green insists that he does live in his district. He gives me a street address in Holualoa and a post office box in Kona to back it up.
But then he tells me that he actually spends about half of his time on Oahu, where one of his two medical jobs is located. In fact, he says he is better able to represent his constituents by being on Oahu because that’s where the people are who make decisions that are important to Kona, like money for state projects in his district.
Still, you have to wonder how plugged in he is to a remote area of Hawaii island when he spends much of his time in Honolulu and owns at least two condos that he considers to be personal property, not investments.
And then there’s a real question about where his kids go to school, a question he refuses to answer….
read … Capitol Place
OHA Trustee: Another $2M Must be Wasted on Nai Aupuni
CB: … the two most formidable challenges moving forward will be raising the funds to hold a public ratification vote and defending legal challenges to the ratification process.
I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’m sure the process of ratification will require at least $2 million….
read … Peter Apo
Judge strikes dollar amount from order to boost DHHL funds
CB: First Circuit Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti, as detailed in a transcript released Tuesday, said in the case of Nelson vs. Hawaiian Homes Commission:
“The Defendants must fulfill their constitutional duty and trust responsibilities. To be clear, the Court is not ordering an appropriation.
“The Court is, however, ordering that the State must comply with its constitutional duty to make sufficient sums available to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands for its administrative and operating budget. There is still time for the State to become in compliance during this fiscal year.”
The case centers on whether the Hawaii Legislature is required to provide an additional $18 million on top of the $9.6 million already appropriated in the current fiscal year to DHHL.
SA: Judge strikes dollar amount from order to boost DHHL funds
read … Must Fund
Kapolei students chosen for telescope time
SA: In what one described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” four budding astronomers on Wednesday learned they had won time using one of the world’s most powerful telescopes.
“It’s like winning a Grammy,” said Jamie Valdez, 18, after the announcement of the winners at the Kapolei High School library. “We were so surprised. Like, I was shaking the whole time.”
Four Kapolei students were named the inaugural winners of the Maunakea Scholars Program, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States that gives aspiring astronomers an opportunity to spend time at a major international observatory. The pilot program is a partnership between the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the Gemini International Observatory, both of which are atop Mauna Kea, and the state Department of Education.
Doug Simons, director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, announced two groups of winners from Kapolei High. Each two-member team will spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half at CFHT’s control room to further their research….
Meanwhile: UH Proudly Announces: We are Closing Down Five Perfectly Good Telescopes
read … Kapolei students chosen for telescope time
State of the City Fallout
Jon Drinky Karimatsu Convicted on 2nd DUI
KHON: Karamatsu was arrested back in April 2015 and re-assigned from his job at the city prosecutor’s office a few days after his arrest.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced to five days in jail and $1,000 fine, but that sentence was postponed pending an appeal.
This is the second time Karamatsu has been caught driving drunk.
In October 2007, Karamatsu was driving on Moanalua Freeway when he slammed into a concrete median.
He was serving as a state representative for the 41st District at the time.
CB: Karamatsu ran for lieutenant governor in 2010
read … Politically Connected Drunk
IDG-Huena Geothermal Missed the High Price Opportunity
IM: The Big Island has already met its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement for 2030. The island generates almost half of its electricity from renewable energy.
The Public Utilities Commission and the Consumer Advocate have both stated that any new generation installed on the Big Island MUST drive down customer bills….
At the time Hu Honua was approved, an LCOE which exceeded 20 cents per kilowatt-hour was deemed acceptable. That was then. A lot has changed in the past few years.
Today neither Hu Honua nor Hu`ena would be accepted by the Public Utilities Commission. The price of alternatives, of both renewables and fossil fuel, is significantly less than the asking prices of Hu Honua and Hu`ena produced electricity.
In the case of Hu`ena, the company agreed to meet all of HELCOʻs requirements, including grid support, except for the price. Hu`ena wanted nearly double the going rate….
Hawai`i has changed. The Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) Energy Agreement was signed in October 2008. The document asserted that a rapid increase in the use of renewable energy required a short-term price bump which would be leveled out in the long-run.
We are passed the bump. Renewable prices are dropping rapidly….
CB: House Defines ‘Substantial Net Benefit’ For Utility Merger Proposals
read … Shifting Energy Terrain on the Big Island