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Wednesday, February 20, 2019
February 20, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:56 PM :: 3195 Views

Ige Names Leo R. Asuncion, Jr. to Public Utilities Commission

After 21 Years, City Nearly Finished Installing Wheelchair-Friendly Curb Ramps

City launches new performance dashboard

Poor and Young People Are Fleeing Public Transit

Hint to Honolulu: Feds Demand California Give Back Federal Funds for Failed Rail Project

AP: … Congress nearly a decade ago approved the $929 million that Trump wants to cancel. The state has not started spending that money. But it has already spent the extra $2.5 billion that Trump now wants back.

(Translation: When HART finally agrees to stop at Middle Street, they need to negotiate a settlement in advance with the Feds—or else!)

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it is “actively exploring every legal option” to get back the money.

The grant agreement between California and the federal government, signed in 2010, outlines several scenarios in which the federal government could take the money back. It can take the money back, for example, if the grantee fails to make “adequate progress” or “fails to complete the project or one of its tasks” or if the state doesn’t meet its matching fund requirements.

If the federal government decides to take the money back, it doesn’t have to wait for California to write a check. The agreement states the federal government could offset the money it would pay California for different transportation or other projects.

California hasn’t yet fully matched the $2.5 billion in stimulus money. It’s in the process of doing so now, using money from the 2008 bond passed by voters and revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. It can’t unlock the $929 million grant until it completes its match….

PDF: FRA Letter to California Feb 19, 2019

read … Rail Fail Payback

Sheriff’s Deputies not Given Tasers—Deputy Fatally shoots man at state Capitol after ‘extreme struggle’

HNN: …Nolan Espinda, director of the Department of Public Safety which oversees the state sheriffs, said the man had placed the deputy in a headlock before he sustained a single shot in the body.

“He was in an extreme struggle, inclusive with arms wrapped around his head and upper torso," Espinda said, at a news conference Tuesday.

It all started around 8:20 p.m. on the ewa-makai side of the Capitol rotunda.

State officials said the sheriff’s deputy was conducting routine patrols when he spotted a man with a bottle of alcohol.

“After repeated directions to dispose of the alcohol and vacate the premises were disregarded, a struggle initiated by the male ensued," said Espinda….

“It’s a wake-up call for people in this building to get on with a macro-security plan," said Republican state Rep. Gene Ward.

Public Safety officials said the incident also underscores the need for body cameras and non-lethal equipment, such as tasers. Right now, sheriffs are equipped with pepper spray, handcuffs and batons along with their firearms.  (Note: Police in US started using tasers in 1998.)

“They are not equipped with tasers at this time. Clearly, the use of more tools in their belt in regards to weapons with less than lethal outcomes would be greatly helpful," Espinda said….

read … Sheriff’s deputy fatally shoots man at state Capitol after ‘extreme struggle’

Judge: HPD Must Release Arbitration Report On Officer Who Beat Girlfriend

CB:  … An arbitrator’s decision that allowed a Honolulu police sergeant to keep his job even after he was fired for repeatedly punching his girlfriend in a Waipahu restaurant must be released publicly, a court ruling issued Tuesday says.

Sgt. Darren Cachola was fired by the Honolulu Police Department in September 2014 after he was caught on surveillance tape beating his girlfriend at the Kuni Restaurant where she worked.

But Cachola was reinstated with back pay by an arbitrator four years after the incident. The department and the city were set to release the decision, but the state police union — the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers — sued to keep it secret.

Civil Beat, which had filed a public records request for the report, intervened in the case and on Tuesday, First Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree agreed with the city, HPD and Civil Beat that the report was a matter of “significant public interest.” ….

read … Judge: HPD Must Release Arbitration Report On Officer Who Beat Girlfriend

Police Union Goes To Court Stop Exposure of Corruption

CB: … Hawaii’s statewide police union filed a lawsuit last week aimed at Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard and her November 2017 decision to reassign then-union president Tenari Maafala to a midnight patrol unit in Waikiki from his previous position as a counselor in a peer support unit.

The legal action seeks to overturn a January ruling from the Hawaii Labor Relations Board that found Ballard had the right as police chief to transfer Maafala, as well as three other union officials, to new positions within her department and then speak about it with the media.

The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers has argued — including in its latest legal filing — that the transfer was done against the officers’ will and violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement.

The union also argued that Ballard’s decision to talk to Civil Beat about the staffing move in December 2017 violated the officers’ privacy.

Union officials were particularly upset with how Ballard described the circumstances of Maafala’s transfer, saying that what Ballard told the media about misuse of overtime and his refusal to volunteer for the peer support unit was “patently false and defamatory.”

“Civil Beat’s article has led to a public outcry and harsh criticisms directed against SHOPO President Ma’afala and SHOPO,” SHOPO attorney Keani Alapa wrote.

Alapa added: “Respondent Ballard’s false and disparaging remarks about SHOPO President Ma’afala painted him in a very sinister light and generated negative comments from the public about him, including comments that he was ‘corrupt,’ ‘milking the system’ and ‘when asked to volunteer he declines although he claims to care so much about officers in need.’”….

PDF: Lawsuit

read … Police Union Goes To Court To Overturn Labor Board Ruling On Officer Transfers

Prostitutes Release Drawing of Kaniela Ing on Leash as Jabola­-Carolus Grabs for Power

SA: … A co-founder of SWOP-Hawaii posted a picture on social media of Jabola­-Carolus pulling her partner, former state Rep. Kaniela Ing, around on a dog leash…..

(Look up ‘entitled millennial’.  Yes, that’s her.)

…The two sex-trafficking bills in question were put forth by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, a state agency tasked with advocating on behalf of girls and women, which is led by Khara Jabola-­­Carolus. The bills would afford the agency a greater role in the fight against sex trafficking, putting them in charge of a sex-trafficking database and a training program for criminal justice workers.

The database would track the number of sex-trafficking cases reported in Hawaii and demographic information on victims, sex buyers and traffickers. It would also track the number of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of people who solicit sex in violation of laws against both prostitution and sex trafficking.

Another bill would put the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women in charge of creating a statewide training program on sex trafficking for law enforcement and the legal community. Hawaii is one of 12 states that haven’t enacted laws to require public agencies to receive human-trafficking training, according to the commission…..

Dec 1, 2018: Police Report ‘Threat’ Against State Women’s Commission Director was Fake—Timed to Coincide with Renewal of Employment Contract

read … Sex-trafficking bills opposed by new prostitution lobby

Hawaiian Leadership: Many are in the News for Corruption Charges

CB: … Hawaiian leadership seems frail and divided. Too many Hawaiians are in the news for corruption charges. Too few are being appointed to leadership positions. Too few are being leaders.

(CLUE: ‘Being appointed to a leadership position’ is not the same as ‘being a leader.’) ….

read … Do We Really Know Who We Are Anymore?

Affordable Housing: OHA Demands a 20% Cut of Revenue

SA: … This is 2019, and most Hawaii residents who are contemplating home ownership for the first time find themselves shut out of the housing market. The shortage of inventory, investor speculation and other factors have driven up the prices to the half-million-dollar range and beyond.

Leasehold offers another way in — and with the state maintaining ownership, the risk of a profit- driven lease renewal for higher rents is not the overriding concern.

Two bills have been introduced this session:

>> House Bill 817 simply authorizes the state to enter into 99-year leases of residential condominium units located on state land.

The program would be overseen by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. (HHFDC), with the units offered only to Hawaii residents. They must qualify under state law, which adds requirements including that they be owner-occupants.

>> Senate Bill 1 is far more detailed, spelling out the particulars of what is dubbed the ALOHA program (that stands for ”affordable, locally owned homes for all”). It was championed by state Sen. Stanley Chang, who introduced the bill along with numerous co-sponsors; he bases his plan on a Singaporean model that is government- run.

This is a bold move and one that could scale up enough to close the affordable-housing gap substantially, a prospect that has seemed dim despite the promises of transit-oriented development. The profit motivation of private developers and landowners would be mitigated; SB 1 also includes resale rules aimed at keeping the units within the affordable range.

The flip side: The same control that keeps a lid on the property cost also threatens the success of such projects with government inefficiencies. Hawaii is not Singapore; regulatory complications could bog things down.

So the object of passing this enabling legislation — which lawmakers should do this session — should be to establish clear rules for partnerships with private builders and with nonprofit entities that can manage the projects once they’re delivered.

There are interest groups weighing in, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which has raised some concerns about its interest in proceeds it is owed from much of the state-owned land for these projects.

read … OHA is an obstacle to Affordable Housing

Millennials Dream of Moving to Koa Ridge, Hoopili—Projects Fought by Sierra Club, Clayton Hee

CB: … Sometimes Ballina will peruse websites for new homes at Koa Ridge, an upcoming housing development in Central Oahu. She’s saving for a down payment and working with a financial planner to come up with the funds.

“I want to be able to have my own space, decorate my own space that I want,” she says. “If I want to create a tie-dye wall, I can make a tie-dye wall.”

But the prices she’s finding are still out of reach unless she can convince her sister to move in with her and help cover the mortgage. In the back of her mind, Ballina has a fallback plan.

“Straight up honest, this is just being honest,” she says. “When they’re (her parents are) gone and our immediate family, our uncle is gone, we’ll potentially have two houses.”…

Yet that won’t solve all her problems. Even if she eventually inherits a house, she’s not sure if she can ever afford kids….

read …. Family Is The Safety Net For Many Young Adults On Pricey Oahu

Priced Out: Immigrants Quit Hawaii for Alaska

HuffPo:  … Biluk came to Honolulu last year from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a remote country of tiny islands in the South Pacific around 3,500 miles away. He wanted his wife to have better access to treatment for her diabetes, and he hoped his 8-year-old could get a quality education.

A former policeman, Biluk found work as a security guard at a Honolulu Walmart and used his modest salary to lease a cheap apartment. But a series of medical emergencies and a rent hike meant he ended up with a choice: go hungry or move into a homeless shelter. Biluk chose the latter, and eight months down the line, with nothing more permanent on the horizon, he is moving his family again. This time to Alaska. …

read … Priced Out

Tourist Count Up 3M in Decade

Cataluna: … Just 10 years ago Hawaii tourism officials were bemoaning a “challenging” year that brought only 6.8 million tourists to Hawaii. It was the first year since 2004 that annual total arrivals dipped below 7 million people. Two domestic airlines, Aloha and ATA, stopped operating that year, as well as two Hawaii home-ported cruise ships. Add to that the recession and high fuel prices, and tourist visits to Hawaii were, as DBEDT termed it, “restrained.”

It seems very unrestrained now.

Hawaii as a tourist destination isn’t what it used to be. It’s crowded. It’s dirty. The roadways are congested. The image of a green and lush paradise is shattered by the reality of tall concrete and glass buildings, potholed roads, the smell of sewer problems and parks filled with homeless encampments. There’s a vibe here that visitors probably all can sense on some level — not that they’re unwelcome, but that they are customers rather than guests.

And Hawaii as a home isn’t what it used to be. It’s crowded beyond what anyone could have imagined — on the roads, on the beaches, even in our neighborhoods.

Yet so much of the mindset when it comes to tourism numbers is “bigger is better.”…

read … How much is too much? Probably this much

Hawaii Fish Farmers Tied up in Red Tape

HNN: …Randy Cates of Cates International said there is a great market for pure and fresh seafood raised in Hawaii, but the local and national government pose bureaucratic roadblocks.

“The biggest obstacle is permission. It’s not financing, it’s not high labor costs, it’s not the health standards,” he said.

Sixteen years ago, Cates floated huge cages off Ewa and eventually harvested tons of moi every day.

Like many other aquaculture and mariculture enterprises in Hawaii, it didn’t last. But with lessons learned he’d like to try again at a new site off the reef runway of Honolulu Airport.

“I’ve been trying for five years, half a million dollars on the site and I still don’t have permission to do it.” Cates said.

Kauai Shrimp’s Turner agreed that the net of red tape prevents new enterprises from even getting started.

“There are so many new rules and regulations that a small guy has a real hard time getting started because he might be breaking three laws he didn’t even know he is involved with,” Turner said.

“To get the permits we have currently would be almost impossible now,” he added.

The Ige administration has not responded to questions about that concern….

read … Red Tape

Scare Tactics: House Democrats Pretend Wall will Result in Hawaii Cuts

SA: … The House Appropriations Committee (ie a bunch of Democrats) has identified $311.3 million in Hawaii military construction projects that it says are “vulnerable” to being diverted (will never be diverted) by the Trump administration to help build a southern border wall (but we want to scare you so here they are).

The projects include:

>> $105 million for the ongoing construction of a Fort Shafter U.S. Army Pacific command and control facility.

>> $17 million at Hickam for an F-22 Raptor fighter facility.

>> $45 million at Pearl Harbor for a drydock waterfront facility.

>> $66.1 million at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base for a corrosion control hangar.

>> $78.32 million for a Pearl City water transmission line.

The (Democrat controlled) Appropriations Committee said it compiled a worldwide list of military construction projects for which funding has been allocated but not yet obligated “and that therefore are vulnerable to having funds diverted to the border wall under the national emergency declaration.”…

(Translation: They are peddling this same story in every Congressional District.  Who could be fooled?)

read … $311M in Hawaii military construction could be diverted for border wall (or not)

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