Elderly Tourists Forced off Road to Hana, Stranded for Hours
Bribery and Fraud: ‘The Public is Angry’
SA Editorial: … Public perceptions about government corruption became reality — again — when two state politicians got busted for bribery and fraud last February, another episode in a recent string of public crimes. The two — retired state Sen. J. Kalani English and then-Rep. Ty Cullen — would soon plead guilty to using their elected office to influence legislation in exchange for cash and other greedy gains….
The good-government measures run the gamut: from strengthening investigation and prosecution of fraud, to greater transparency of government operations, to more ethical awareness, to reducing the power of money in politics. Among the good ideas are the creation of a Citizen’s Bill of Rights — to include the public as a full and open participant in the lawmaking process — and an Office of Public Advocate, to help champion those rights.
In opening-session remarks Wednesday, House Speaker Scott Saiki set the right and necessary tone: “This House takes reset and reform seriously and will take up the recommendations in earnest this session.”…
(IQ Test: Do you believe him?)
Imagine the boon to public trust if stronger anti-fraud laws were adopted quickly, and if rules for more transparent legislating were adopted so they could actually be used this session. Imagine, for instance, if a new law required committee chairs to state publicly why he or she is shelving a bill — rather than the current condoned practice of bills going dark without any given reason or much public notice.
(OK. Now stop imagining and look at the reality.)
Commission Chairman Dan Foley noted to the Star-Advertiser last month that corruption happens in darkness, out of the public eye, and that more light is needed. He was also 100% correct in saying: ”The public is angry, and trust in government is sinking. It is time to act, and act boldly.”
read … Shine light on lawmaking
Perfectly Good Telescope to be Removed from Maunakea--Will be Installed at Chilean University where Science is Valued
HTH: … The removal of a Maunakea observatory is slated to begin this spring and will prompt the temporary closure of several roads.
The California Institute of Technology in 2022 announced it had received the final permits necessary to begin the deconstruction of its Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, with the $4 million project expected to begin by the end of summer 2022 and end before the start of 2023….
He said work is expected to begin around April and will take roughly 140 days.
When the telescope is removed, it will be transported to Kawaihae Harbor and eventually will be shipped to Chile, where it will be installed at a university….
S: This new authority will decide the fate of astronomy atop Hawaii's contested Maunakea volcano
read … CSO ready for removal; decommissioning of Maunakea observatory to begin this spring
HART to Open ‘Mid-2023’?
SA: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is looking in the coming days and weeks to finish repairs to cracks in a score of rail support columns, resolve a wheels-to-rail equipment mix-up, and restart delayed safety tests to train cars that will run along the nearly $10 billion rail line.
Lori Kahikina, the transit agency’s executive director and CEO, told the HART board of directors Friday that the delay in trial runs of the Hitachi Rail trains will end only after a “communications software issue” is fixed.
According to HART staff, Hitachi hopes to have those glitches completed this month to allow a return to train testing on the initial stretch from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium.
“We’re about 70% to 75% done with 144 (test) scenarios that need to be done,” Kahikina said. “The holdup was the communications … (but) we’re going to start the remaining scenarios on Tuesday, and hopefully we will get those remaining scenarios done.”
After that, she said, the next step for the train cars would be a system demonstration.
“Hitachi is hoping to get that done in 30 days; we think it’s more like 45 to 60 days,” Kahikina said. “So hopefully, that trial running can be done by the end of April.”…
According to HART officials, the rail line is expected to open the first segment of its 19-station route by mid-2023….
read … HART reports progress on fixing rail issues
DHHL Spending delayed by State’s Grab for $412M COVID Money?
SA Editorial: … Act 279 also included a three-year deadline: If the $600 million was not fully encumbered by June 30, 2025, what’s left of the money would revert to the state general fund.
It was an appropriate stick to accompany the carrot. DHHL’s long history of inertia and slower-than-molasses bureaucracy has left many beneficiaries in limbo; too many have died waiting for their birthright. And time is money. The longer it takes to develop homes, the more expensive it gets.
Now DHHL wants the Legislature to extend the deadline to an undefined future date. The rationale is questionable, and lawmakers should be wary of removing the stick, at least for now.
Lehua Kinilau-Cano, a DHHL government relations manager, said if the state doesn’t spend enough on education in relation to other state spending, it stands to lose as much as $412 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds — which could happen if DHHL encumbers more than $172 million and spends more than $50 million by June 30. But spending less now would make it difficult to spend the rest of the $600 million by the end of the third fiscal year — hence the need for the extension.
It’s not clear why, among all the state’s agencies, DHHL’s beneficiaries must take the hit. It’s also not clear why this problem wasn’t anticipated and addressed well before the Hawaiian Homes Commission voted on Tuesday to seek the extension….
read … Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ deadline problem
State’s highest court rules incumbent Maui councilmember won seat in key race
HNN: … The higher court agreed with Ahia that the clerk waited too long — just 4 days before the deadline — to notify nearly 200 voters about their ballots.
However, according to court documents the justices said any mistake by the clerk “would not change the outcome of the election.”
It was determined (4-1) Lee won the majority of votes cast, beating Ahia by approximately 500 votes….
read … State’s highest court rules incumbent Maui councilmember won seat in key race
Federal Judge Grants Broad Order Protecting A Honolulu Reporter
HNN: … The sweeping order by U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi means Hawaii News Now’s chief investigative reporter, Lynn Kawano, won’t have to provide documents to Maui County attorneys who are seeking to defend former Maui police officer Brandon Saffeels against allegations of misconduct.
Kobayashi had previously indicated she was inclined to find that some of the information sought by the county was not covered by a privilege protecting journalists from revealing information gathered while reporting. But Kobayashi’s ruling on Friday granted Kawano’s request for a broad protective order, essentially covering everything the county had sought from Kawano.….
HNN: Attorney: judge’s decision in case involving HNN is a win for First Amendment
Jan 6, 2023: Maui County Lawyers Attack Reporter Who Exposed Child Molesting DUI Sextortion Cop
read … Federal Judge Grants Broad Order Protecting A Honolulu Reporter
‘Just like Marco Polo’: 77-year-old man killed in large blaze at Aiea highrise
HNN: … The two-alarm blaze started at about 11:30 a.m. at 98-099 Uao Pl., the 33-floor Lele Pono Condo, across from Pearlridge Center. Nearly 40 firefighters arrived to find a 29th-floor unit fully engulfed in flames and fully extinguished it by 1 p.m….
“This building is a non sprinklered building and an open air type of corridor building, just like the Marco Polo condo fire that we handled in 2017. So these buildings are not required to be sprinklered because they were built before 1975,” said Fire Capt. Malcolm Medrano. “There’s about 300 or so buildings that are similar to this. We know how important it is to have fire sprinklers in the units to confine fire to its area of origin and the survivorship is greater when you have sprinklers in the building.”
Some residents said smoke detectors are required in the units and the complex has fire alarms on each floor that need to be manually set off…
HNN: Condo where fatal fire happened didn’t have sprinklers, alarms didn’t sound
read … HFD: 77-year-old man killed in large blaze at Aiea highrise
Medical clinic for homeless at Punawai opens for patients
SA: … Approximately 30% of emergency room patients are homeless, he said. Punawai can offer medical services along with a place to rest instead of putting people right back on the street and back to potential trauma, saving dollars and delays.
Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Director Dr. Jim Ireland said the Punawai medical clinic complements the mission of the city’s Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement, or CORE, program, which offers a team of first responders to address emergency calls involving nonviolent homeless people.
A year ago, he said, a homeless person with a minor wound or psychiatric problem would result in a 911 call, and EMS would respond with an ambulance and transport them to busy emergency rooms downtown.
“Today we have the CORE team,” Ireland said. “They can go to the same issue, the same minor medical problem or trauma or wound, and now rather than going to the ER, they can potentially come here for the right type of patient, so we’ve short-circuited all that very expensive care.”
Additionally, he said the Punawai medical clinic, as a primary care center, would be able to connect patients with shelters, behavioral health specialists or follow-up care.
H4 opened its first clinic in 2018 at a temporary location but in 2020 centralized its Honolulu operations at the Punawai building, a former sportswear factory, requiring extensive renovations….
read … Medical clinic for homeless at Punawai opens for patients