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Monday, August 21, 2023
August 21, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:05 PM :: 1544 Views

Buried News: What was with that Hawaii water official getting showered with leis from 'supporters'?

Hawaii Gov Doubles Down Efforts To Link Climate Change To Tragic Fires

New healthcare law a practical and philosophical win for Hawaii

Honolulu District Courthouse Closed 'Structural Damage' 

Job losses mount on Maui, but anti-tourism could block recovery

SA: … Javier Cantellops, owner and president of Kihei-based Maui Dreams Dive Co. and Island Style Diving, said in the days since the deadly Lahaina wildfire, business on Maui has dropped so much that he already has had to furlough or lay off 40% of his staff.

“I lost $25,000 to cancellations in the first three days. Everyone canceled for this week and next week, and the week after that and for September and October,” Cantellops said. “People book three months or so in advance so if they are canceling for October, it be would be January or February before you saw anything that could make up for it. If it continues for two more weeks, there are people who are not going to be about to recoup.”

Cantellops and his employees are not alone. Since the wildfires, Maui is experiencing a sharp rise in initial unemployment claims, which hit 6,663 from Aug. 9-17, according to state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations spokesperson William Kunstman.

Kunstman said DLIR “cannot determine how many are disaster related at this time,” although since May initial claims had averaged 700 or 800 weekly. It’s the highest level of claims on Maui, the state’s most tourism-dependent island, since the tourism shutdown in the earliest part of the COVID-19 pandemic….

read … Job losses mount on Maui, but anti-tourism could block recovery

Islands Have a Disaster-Response Problem What Puerto Rico portends for Maui

The Atlantic: … “Imagine building the entire town of Lahaina from scratch, and how many hundreds of millions—or billions—of dollars are needed to recover and rebuild,” Joe Kent, the executive vice president of Hawaii’s Grassroot Institute, a nonprofit public-policy think tank, told me….

And for Hawaii, as for Puerto Rico, all aid shipped in must adhere to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more popularly known as the Jones Act. This law allows only U.S.-flagged ships that are built, owned, and operated by Americans to carry goods among U.S. ports. Under normal circumstances, this results in increased prices for consumers on islands: One 2020 study estimated that the average Hawaii family pays an extra $1,800 a year because of the Jones Act. And as happened in Puerto Rico, these restrictions can make a crisis worse, by slowing the response and making it more costly….

More than 200,000 people left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In the years since, García told me, only a small percentage have returned to the island. On Maui, even before the historic fires, residents were dealing with an influx of wealthy outsiders buying properties and displacing residents. Even in these first days after the fire, one of locals’ first concerns was that this land rush would accelerate—that people who wanted to come back simply wouldn’t be able to afford to. That happened in Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, a wave of foreign investors bought up properties, displacing working-class residents to meet tourism demands and get their own slice of island life. From 2018 to 2021, housing prices for a single family home on the Caribbean island increased by 22 percent….

read … Islands Have a Disaster-Response Problem

Maui Council to Meet Tuesday: ‘Developing a comprehensive recovery and resilience plan’

CB: … It appears rather innocuously as Resolution 23-194 on the fifth page of the agenda for the Maui County Council’s next regular meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

A summary establishes its import: “Developing a comprehensive recovery and resilience plan in response to the island of Maui’s tragic wildfires of August 2023.”

But what it really represents is the first public forum where Maui residents can address their leaders since a wildfire devastated Lahaina on Aug. 8. Up until now, public officials have been taking their questions from members of the news media, most of whom have not lost property and even loved ones….

(CLUE: The Council must vote to automatically approve any fire zone property owner’s request to rebuild like-kind to what was destroyed--subject only to building codes.  Any deviation from this plan is an attempt to exploit the fire to seize property.)

read … Make Your Voice Heard At This Week's Maui County Council Session - Honolulu Civil Beat

Pop-up homes coming to people whose homes were burnt down on Maui

KITV: … The group purchased 60 pop-up homes and these units can house up to 120 individuals or 34 families. Families with children and kupuna will be prioritized.

Applications have been flooding in.

“Probably about 75% of the units will be for families with kids and then 25% of the elderly. We want to establish a process that is fair and available for everyone,” said Maude Cumming, co-founder….

read … Pop-up homes coming to people whose homes were burnt down on Maui

Lawyers Lahaina Fire Feeding Frenzy: Multiple Complaints Filed

CB: … The Hawaii Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel has received at least 12 complaints about attorneys who are not licensed in Hawaii soliciting survivors of the Maui fires as clients, according to Chief Disciplinary Counsel Bradley Tamm.

“My inbox has blown up, so I have no idea how many more complaints are in there,” Tamm said, adding that he’s been on the phone “all day long” with Hawaii lawyers, as well as mainland lawyers looking to affiliate with Hawaii lawyers.

Lawyers who are not licensed in the state are not subject to the same levels of accountability as local counsel, Tamm said….

“It’s a feeding frenzy,” Tamm said. “There are sharks both in the water and on the land.”…

read … Hawaii Residents Are Urged To Be Cautious About Retaining Lawyers From Out Of State - Honolulu Civil Beat.

Sea Level ‘Projections’ Used to jack up Cost of Housing Construction on Kauai 

FC: … Kaua’i County, which is made up of the islands of Kaua’i, Ni’ihau, Lehua, and Ka’ula, has adopted an ordinance requiring newly built or renovated structures to be elevated to a certain level, based on (bogus) projections about how much the sea-level will rise….

(TRANSLATION: “Move to Las Vegas. You can’t afford to build here.")

REALITY: Data vs Hype: Honolulu NOAA Chart Shows Sea Level Rise is a False Crisis

read … This Hawaiian county has a radical plan to deal with sea level rise (fastcompany.com)

Charter amendments would address raises for elected officials--but Okimoto Chickens Out

SA: … On Aug. 9, Val Okimoto — who, along with six others on the Council, saw her taxpayer-funded salary climb into the six-figure range for fiscal year 2024, which began July 1 — introduced Resolution 193 to initiate amendments to the Revised Charter of Honolulu.

Those amendments relate to the city Salary Commission, which approved the Council’s controversial pay raises earlier this year.

As drafted, Okimoto’s proposed resolution would cut existing language in the city’s charter that allows the Council to reject — either in whole or in part and by a three-quarters vote — the Salary Commission’s adopted pay hikes for the Council, the mayor and others in the city’s workforce of over 8,500 employees.

Moreover, Resolution 193 would replace preceding language in the same section of the charter to read: “Any action of the commission altering salaries shall be by resolution accompanied by findings of fact and is not subject to rejection or alteration by the council or mayor.”

Okimoto’s resolution would also impose term limits on individual salary commissioners, not to exceed more than two, five-year terms….

Under her resolution, Okimoto’s requested charter amendments need to go before voters during the 2024 general election. And if voters were to approve her amendments, they would take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

But this week, Okimoto announced she had a change of heart — at least as far as Resolution 193 was concerned.

“After thinking it over, I spoke with (Council) Chair (Tommy) Waters about my proposal, and we agree that this issue is best left to the people through the Charter Commission,” Okimoto told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser via email.

(TRANSLATION: Waters is concerned that the voters would approve the amendment so he stopped it.)

According to the city’s revised charter, the formation of a Charter Commission comprised of members of the public — not city officers — occurs every 10 years.

(TRANSLATION: ‘Never.’)

read … Charter amendments would address raises for elected officials

After Seven Expensive Years as a Bum Flop, Uncle Billy’s Hotel to Finally be Demolished?

HTH: ... The 148-room hotel closed in 2017 and has been a blight on the Waiakea Peninsula ever since, becoming the site of squatters, drug use, vandalism, fires and other crimes….

Earlier this year, Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy introduced a County Council resolution urging the governor to declare the condition of the building an emergency and a public health hazard, leading Gov. Josh Green to issue an emergency proclamation in July that would expedite the regulatory processes necessary to demolish it.

“I think asking the police and fire departments to quantify the problem, how many calls they’re responding to in the area, really drove home how much resources we’re wasting by not doing anything,” Lee Loy said Friday.

The resolution estimated the county has spent more than $122,000 responding to more than 1,000 fire calls alone at the building since May 2018.

With the aid of Green’s proclamation, and with collaboration between the county administration, state legislators and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the demolition of Uncle Billy’s could be wrapped up by March, Lee Loy said….

“It’s overwhelming that this has been going on for so long,” Lee Loy said….

read … Uncle Billy’s demolition slated for early next year; officials unsure about future of property - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Lahaina Fire News:

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