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Friday, May 27, 2022
May 27, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 2363 Views

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DoH Survey: 87% in Red Hill Impact Area Report Symptoms

SB2510: How Kouchi, Dela Cruz Blackmailed House to Pass Hu Honua Bill

CB: …  During the waning days of the 2022 legislative session, a bill to protect coffee — one of the state’s most valuable cash crops — was alive by a thread.

Sponsored by Rep. Nicole Lowen, a Big Island lawmaker who chairs the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, the original measure called for tightening labeling laws to ensure that coffee labeled as, say, Kona coffee, included at least 51% coffee grown there.

By the end of session the Senate had watered down Lowen’s bill to a measure calling for a study. And with House and Senate conference committee members at an impasse on April 28 — the day before all bills faced a pass-or-fail deadline — something unusual happened.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee who was pushing a controversial energy bill, suddenly appeared on the Senate conference committee presiding over Lowen’s coffee bill.

Lowen’s House committee had defanged Dela Cruz’s energy bill the previous month by removing a provision designed to redirect Hawaii’s transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy. Any attempt to resurrect Dela Cruz’s energy bill in conference committee would have to get past Lowen.

Now, by appearing on the conference committee overseeing Lowen’s coffee bill, Dela Cruz was showing he had leverage over Lowen.

And that was not an isolated incident.

A record of committee assignments on April 28 shows Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz suddenly moving onto committees negotiating the fate of bills sponsored by Rep. Nicole Lowen. 

Four times in the session’s 11th hour, Dela Cruz suddenly appeared on conference committees with the ability to make or break bills Lowen had sponsored. In all four cases, Dela Cruz replaced other members of the WAM Committee with himself.

Then, the legislative record shows, Dela Cruz vanished from the committees almost as suddenly as he appeared, dropping off the committees the same or next day….

Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi makes the conference committee appointments.  

IM: Legislative Attempt to Save Hu Honua with SB2510

read …  How A Powerful Lawmaker Forced Through A Contentious Energy Bill

3 people shot outside Blaisdell Graduation Ceremony--2 of 3 suspects already released

SA: … Officers arrested the alleged gunman near South King and Pensacola streets just after 9:20 p.m. on suspicion of second-degree attempted murder.

Police also arrested the two assault suspects Thursday night on suspicion of third-degree assault. The 18-year-old man was released from custody after posting $500 bail and the juvenile was released pending investigation….

The 21-year-old man remained in custody this morning.

Police said the three suspects know each other. It’s unknown at this time whether the suspects and shooting victims are known to one another….

read … Soft on Crime

School employees threatened with violence say DOE isn’t taking their concerns seriously

HNN: … Recordings we obtained highlight the frustration of one vice principal who was harassed repeatedly by a parent last year. “We need to take them seriously,” she said on the recording, about the threat the man made.

“He did say he was going to kill all Hawaiians at our school, I’m like what!” …

The parent who harassed the vice president also harassed another employee. And that employee filed a TRO.

In a safety meeting last year, her union representative questioned DOE assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations Randall Tanaka about why the security department was not providing increased protection for campuses affected by the threats.

Tanaka responded, “You need to understand that the role of our security department is not to provide protection.”…

Katherine Balatico, former principal at Stevenson Middle School, said the security department should provide protection to everyone on campus, especially after a threat is made.

Balatico went on leave after receiving a series of threats from an unidentified person.

“The threats were not just to me, but they were to my children which means there are targets on three individuals’ backs, which means three campuses are in danger,” she said.

The threats to Balatico and her children ― one in elementary school the other in high school ― came through a series of hacked emails and a frightening phone call last January.

“I am going to shoot you right inside of your f***ing head. Right inside of your open mouth, okay,” the caller said to her….

read … School employees threatened with violence say DOE isn’t taking their concerns seriously

Lava buyout program seeks to limit payouts: Maximum for undeveloped properties would be set at $22K

HTH: … But although the final phase was set to begin on May 2, the county’s Disaster Recovery Division proposed changes to the final phase in April that would delay the beginning of the phase until July and decrease the maximum payout for sellers. Those changes were submitted this week for review to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has provided grant funding for the program.

The final phase of the program allows owners of undeveloped properties to apply for a buyout. But while the first two phases — respectively concerning owners of primary and secondary residences — allowed for a maximum possible payout of $230,000, the proposed changes to Phase 3 would reduce the maximum payout for undeveloped properties to $22,000.

County Recovery Officer Douglas Le said more than $90 million of the program’s $107 million available funds have already been committed to applicants during the first two phases. Taking into account grant administration fees and other costs, the program has only about $5.8 million left to work with.

With 160 Phase 3 applicants already pre-registered to apply, and more than 700 undeveloped properties eligible for a buyout, the program needs to reconsider its payout structure in order to serve as many eligible owners as possible, Le said.

“We’re getting applications for another 12 primary homes, so that’s another bite out of our budget,” Le said…..

read … Lava buyout program seeks to limit payouts: Maximum for undeveloped properties would be set at $22K

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