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Wednesday, November 17, 2021
November 17, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 2055 Views

State Democratic Chair Announces Plan to Avert Anti-Vaxxer Takeover of Party

Ige Announces $365M in CIP

$40M Police COVID Ticket Overtime Sets New Record--Leaves Taxpayers On The Hook For Jacked Up Pensions

CB: …State lawmakers cracked down on pension spiking in 2012 – but only for new employees. The old-timers continue to stick taxpayers with ever-growing bills from the state pension system. …

Former Honolulu Police Cpl. Darius Evangelista worked a high level of overtime throughout his 28-year career.

But in his final two years on the force, he went into overdrive.

With his wife’s blessing, he volunteered to return to nighttime patrol, making up to three drunken driving arrests per night, he said. Those arrests then required more overtime for court appearances and resulted in Evangelista logging an average of about 1,200 overtime hours in each of his last two years.

It was no secret that he was putting in the extra effort to boost his pension, he said.

“Everybody knew what I was doing,” said Evangelista, who retired in lieu of termination amid a disciplinary proceeding in 2019. “And honestly, everybody else in the department is doing the exact same thing.”…

there are no limits. Officers have been allowed to sign up for as much or as little overtime as they want, former officers said.  …

Cpl. Patrick Fo retired at the end of 2019 after 25 years on the job. In the preceding six months, he logged 1,072 hours of overtime – an average of 41 hours per week on top of his regular work hours. …

… five years before he retired from HPD, Cpl. Thayne Costa didn’t show much interest in overtime. He logged only 24 hours for the entirety of fiscal year 2016.

But in the 2019 fiscal year, he worked 2,335.5 hours of overtime, city data shows, and the following year, he topped that with 2,485.5 hours. Three-quarters of the way through calendar year 2019, he had already boosted his earnings for the year to over $340,000, according to internal HPD records obtained by Civil Beat last year.

Costa, 49, retired at the end of 2020 after a nearly 30-year career. But taxpayers will continue to pay him at a rate that exceeds the mayor’s annual salary of $186,000 thanks to his fortuitously timed overtime bump. …

From fiscal year 2017 through 2021, 171 HPD employees triggered excess pension payments from the city, according to the ERS. That’s about 40% of the HPD employees who retired in that time period, according to retirement data provided by HPD….

Earlier this year, City Council Chair Tommy Waters called for an audit into police overtime policies and procedures, noting that overtime pay factors into veteran officers’ retirements. The audit is not scheduled to be completed until next year, according to the auditor’s office. …

Overtime began ticking up at HPD when former chief Susan Ballard took the helm in late 2017, city data shows….

In the 2020 fiscal year, the first of the pandemic, overtime peaked at nearly 300,000 hours, the data shows, amounting to almost $40 million. The following year, it came down a bit but remained high, with about 212,600 hours.

In mid-2020, the coronavirus was spreading and then-mayor Kirk Caldwell and Ballard ordered a mass law enforcement action in response. An unprecedented ticketing spree commenced, fueled by millions in federal CARES Act money. …

In the end, almost all the tickets were dismissed, but officers who were nearing retirement may continue to see the fruits of that overtime for years to come. Even though the overtime was funded by federal dollars, it factors into pension payments just like any other overtime, Williams said. …

HPD leadership hasn’t made any significant moves to stop spiking, officers said. Other than an overtime limit that was supposedly imposed during the pandemic – which was ultimately ignored – officers said there was never any limit on overtime work. …

read … How Police Overtime Leaves Taxpayers On The Hook For Jacked Up Pensions

Agency charged with protecting at-risk keiki grappling with funding issues, staff shortages

HNN: … There are currently 1,081 active foster child cases. Meanwhile, there are 170 social workers statewide, but there are 45 vacancies.

While the average number of cases per worker is on par with standards ― about seven ― the intake calls can stretch the department.….

About 250 of those come in every month.

Those are potential outcries of abuse or neglect that need to be investigated….

Kalua was adopted on Jan. 26 by the couple now accused of her murder: Isaac and Lehua Kalua.

Once an adoption is final, privacy rules mean state social workers no longer periodically check on the former foster child. That’s something Yamane said is also worth discussing ― the balance of privacy versus the need to ensure the child remains safe.

Case workers were still required to check on Kalua’s siblings, who also lived in the Waimanalo home and were still being fostered.

Face-to-face visits were conducted with the siblings at various times but, sources said, COVID-19 restrictions forced some meetings to be via FaceTime or tele-conference.

That meant checking in on Isabella while there was more difficult.

Isaac Kalua also made up a COVID infection, according to court records, in mid-August.

The documents said the girl’s older sister told investigators that he faked the illness so he could stay home from work and help get rid of evidence.

That infection claim would have also kept CWS workers from visiting the home again….

HNN: ‘CWS failed Ariel’: In wake of child murder case, protesters call for reforms to protect keiki

read … Agency charged with protecting at-risk keiki grappling with funding issues, staff shortages

Affordable Housing Latest Excuse for Slush Fund

SA: … The Honolulu City Council is considering a charter amendment that would increase the share of property tax revenue allocated to the city’s affordable-housing fund.

Currently 0.5% of projected property tax revenue is set aside for the fund, which is supposed to support housing projects for Oahu residents earning below 60% of the annual median income, or $50,800 for individuals and $72,500 for a family of four.

The proposed charter amendment would increase the allocation of property taxes from 0.5% to 1%….

To be put on the election ballot a charter amendment must be approved by a supermajority of at least six of nine Council members. From there the amendment must win at least 50% of the Oahu ballots cast to pass.

ALTHOUGH the proposed charter amendment falls in line with a priority of Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration to build more affordable housing, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services Director Andrew Kawano stopped short of supporting it because of the substantial funding already dedicated for that purpose.

He reported there is nearly $40 million in the affordable housing fund and that the city’s capital improvement plan provides an additional $170 million that could be spent over the next two years.

“We feel that we have enough moving forward,” Kawano said.

He explained he is focused on spending all of the funds currently allocated for affordable housing within the stipulated time frame, with the city preparing to roll out a request for proposals to use the $40 million….

Best Comment: “The headline should read: Addition to special fund will continue erosion of the foundation of the city's general fund.” 

read … Amendment would add to Honolulu affordable-housing fund

Demolition of Aloha Stadium not happening until 2023 at earliest

SA: … Aloha Stadium could come down in early 2023, based on a new state expectation for having a private developer replace the largely condemned facility in Halawa with a smaller arena.

The state Department of Accounting and General Services shared the timetable today as part of notifying three development teams that a request for stadium replacement proposals will be published Dec. 15….

Lead equity members of the three teams qualified to bid are:

>> John Laing Investments Limited, Civil & Building North America Inc. and Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., operating as Aloha Stadium District Partners.

>> Plenary Americas US Holdings Inc. and PCL Investments Canada Inc., operating as Aloha Stadium Hui Hilina‘i.

>> EllisDon Capital Inc., Kobayashi Group LLC and BSC Acquisitions II LLC (Blacksand), operating as Waiola Development Partners…. 

read …  Demolition of Aloha Stadium possible in early 2023

HART Finds Excuses to Keep Rail Shut Down until July-2022--Build Back Bidener will Make Rail Even More Expensive

KHON: … During a construction update to Honolulu city council members on Tuesday, Nov. 16, HART’s interim CEO said trial runs of the system could be pushed back into next year.

One big problem is there are no local certified welders who can fix manganese metal, which is needed for a track and wheel glitch.

“Then it’s 90 full days of no glitches, and then we can hand it over to DTS,” said Lori Kahikina, HART interim CEO. “So we’re still hoping for July but we’ve got to get that weld done.” ….

HART expects inflation to be a factor on bids for the final segment of rail, with construction prices already soaring and more increases expected with the outlay of billions in Hawaii for other federally funded infrastructure projects….

KHON: Pinata: Hawaii leaders want environmental change; Build Back Better Act money grab

read … HART reports trial runs could be pushed to next year

Lies: As Council Votes on TAT Hike for Rail -- Hanabusa Claims Oahu’s rail deficit could be cut in half

SA: … The $3.5 billion deficit for the city’s troubled rail project could turn out to be $2 billion and perhaps even as low as $1.5 billion, the chairwoman of the rail board told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii livestream program today….

Kahikina is expected to provide a financial update to the City Council’s Budget Committee today, Hanabusa said.

The Council is debating whether to create a new county transient accommodations tax of up to 3% aimed at tourists and the HART board has requested an unspecified share of the new tax….

(Translation: Hanabusa’s lie is designed to help Councilmembers approve the 3% TAT for Rail.)

Hanabusa said there is enough money to get through Middle Street but the challenge remains of how to fund construction for the remaining four miles to Ala Moana.

Hanabusa also said that Kahikina is in talks with the HART board to make Kahikina the permanent CEO and executive director. Her predecessor, Andrew Robbins, was the city’s highest-paid employee.

Hanabusa, a former Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate, said she will not run for lieutenant governor next year but did not rule out another bid for governor….

SA: LIVESTREAM: HART board chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa joins the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s ‘Spotlight Hawaii.’

read … Oahu’s rail deficit could be cut in half

O’ahu 600 MW Floating Wind Turbine Study Released--Waikiki Remains Prime Target for Development

IM: … The NREL Study assumed that a 600-megawatt facility built on semisubmersible floating platforms would consist of 40 turbines each with a capacity of 15 megawatts. Each floating turbine would have a height of 492 feet and the blades would sweep an area of 787 feet.

The Iwilei and Ko‘olau transmission substations were selected as the most likely places to interconnect offshore wind….

The NREL modeling approach indicates that the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE)  for offshore wind in the O‘ahu analysis domain ranges from around $83/MWh–$194/MWh for a Commercial Operation Date in 2019 and decreases to $48/MWh–$109/MWh by 2032 due to maturing global supply chains, increasing turbine rating, and the incorporation of technological innovations….

read … O’ahu 600 MW Floating Wind Turbine Study Released

Come January, Hawaii residents will be allowed to carry Tasers in public

HNN: ….The new law, which will go into effect in January, allows Tasers to be carried in public to defend yourself, others and your property.

“This law is very much about making it so that people that want to follow the law have the opportunity to do so. Right now, the only people that can carry tasers are criminals,” said Andrew Namiki Roberts, of the Hawaii Firearms Coalition.

Hawaii residents will be allowed to own electric guns and carry them anywhere, not just within a home.

Buyers must be 21 or older. They won’t need a permit, but sellers will need to conduct background checks and have safety training.

… Felons or people with violent criminal histories will not be able to purchase electric guns….

read … Come January, Hawaii residents will be allowed to carry Tasers in public

Kitty Simonds is an effective advocate for the commercial fishing fleet--That’s Why the Enviros are Attacking Her

CB: … When I served in the Congress (1987-1990) representing Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, I was appointed to a seat on the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. I sought that committee assignment because I knew how important its decisions were to Hawaii and its aquatic and fishing industries.

Shortly after my appointment, Sen. Dan Inouye called me to fill me in on a problem for Hawaii’s fishing fleet caused by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The law covered every fish on the planet except tuna, or ahi as we call it in Hawaii. There was concern that unless tuna was included in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the species could become seriously diminished.

Sen. Inouye also told me that some in the U.S. fishing industry lobby were working hard to keep tuna off the list. By doing so, the U.S. purse seiner fleet in the Gulf of Mexico had virtual control of the fishery.

(Once we successfully changed the law, the U.S. purse seiner fleet had to recognize the exclusive economic zones of scores of Pacific Islands nations.)

I felt that the act’s original stance on tuna was wrong on all counts, and I received critical support in Hawaii from Frank Goto and Brooks Takenaka of the local United Fishing Agency, and Kitty Simonds.

I worked with a sympathetic committee chairman, Congressman Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Democrat, and we put together a strategy that garnered enough Democrat and Republican votes to pass a bill placing tuna under Magnuson-Stevens out of committee. Then Chairman Jones suggested I seek a hearing before the House Rules Committee to advance the measure on the consent calendar. That way it could be approved by unanimous consent, which allows a bill to pass without a formal vote. I gained the crucial support of the Rules Committee for a hearing.

On the day of the vote, I posted supportive members of the Merchant Marine Committee at the entrance doors to the House Chamber, armed with leaflets explaining that for environmental reasons — the continued existence of this vital fish, the tuna — it was necessary for them to vote “aye” by unanimous consent on this measure. It worked and I called Sen. Inouye with the good news….

read … Kitty Simonds is an effective advocate for the commercial fishing fleet.

Tiny Homes for Homeless Cost $116K Per Unit

HNN: … The village is made up of 37 tiny homes, pavilions and other common spaces with shared amenities….

HomeAid Hawaii raised upwards of $2.5 million worth of contributions including labor and materials to get the project off the ground. While the state chipped in another $1.8 million….

($4.3M / 37 = $116K per unit)

Meanwhile, operating costs are estimated to be about $500,000 a year….

Rent for the single person unit is $500 a month….

read … Determination, cooperation key ingredients in making tiny home village for homeless a reality

Waimanalo Bumfight: One Dead, One Arrested

SA: … Thoemmes said the two men, who are “residentially challenged,” (LOL!) were reportedly involved in a fight over the suspect’s girlfriend. No weapons were used.

Responding officers arrested the 37-year-old at 12:34 p.m. on suspicion of second-degree murder after the incident.

Two other men who also live at a homeless encampment at the edge of the park say that the suspect and victim also lived there.

Billy, one of the camp’s residents who did not want his last name used, said the 44-year-old was talking after he collapsed so he was shocked to learn that the man died.

He estimated the victim was about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 225 pounds, while the other man was small….

(Both bums are/were expensive to maintain in bumhood.)

AP: U.S. overdose deaths top 100,000 in one year for first time

read … Homeless man, 44, dies after fight over suspect’s girlfriend at Waimanalo Beach Park

Hawaii To Update Unemployment Application After Federal Investigation

CB: … The state agreed to provide better access to limited English speakers and non-citizens after five filed civil rights complaints….

read … Hawaii To Update Unemployment Application After Federal Investigation

Hawaii County Council to consider ban on pesticide at Some County Facilities

HTH: … A bill banning the use of glyphosate-based pesticides at some Hawaii County facilities will taken up today by County Council members.

Bill 91, introduced by Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, is intended to reduce the use of the broad-spectrum systemic herbicide by county workers at Hawaii County Parks and Recreation facilities across the Big Island. Exempt from the ban would be the Hilo Municipal Golf Course, Hilo Drag Strip and all county cemeteries….

The Climate Resilience and Natural Resource Management Committee will take up the measure during its meeting at 2 p.m. today at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. The meeting is closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will be livestreamed at

As of press-time dozens of people had submitted testimony on the bill, including more than 60 writing in support of the measure….

read … Long After banning it for Everybody Else

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