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Wednesday, September 13, 2023
September 13, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:52 PM :: 3044 Views

Can Hawaii Republicans Stop Vexatious Litigants?

Fixing Hawaii’s Tax System; Decrease Taxes for Families, Businesses

“You guys gone kick them out? Where are they going?”

HNN: … Gov. Josh Green said nearly 7,300 people are staying in 32 hotels across West Maui, and those hotels are set to reopen to tourism in less than four weeks. ….

Some say it’s too soon, but state leaders say it’s the right time.

The Maui County Council got an earful Tuesday from residents worried about the Oct. 8 reopening of West Maui tourism.

“And bringing back tourism feels that train’s gonna keep moving, and it’s gonna leave us all behind,” said one Kula Resident. “So, it’s not the right timing for this, apparently.”

“What gone happen when all the tourists come? You guys gone kick them out? Where are they going?” said Junya Nakoa of Maui.

But state leaders said no fire victims would be kicked out of a hotel without a place to go and that by the end of September, most will be relocated to longer-term housing such as Airbnb’s….

DBEDT’s Director James Tokioka, said without the reopening, hotels would have to lay off many of the nearly 3,000 unionized workers impacted by the fires….

Gov. Green expects West Maui to return to at least 20% of its pre-fire tourism levels….

(So 80% of rooms will be vacant--so why expel residents?)

read … ‘Not the right timing’: Planned reopening of West Maui tourism stirs concern

HECO Lahaina Rebuild Plan?  More Rate Hikes

HNN: … Hawaiian Electric may be asking customers to pay for damage and recovery from the Maui wildfires — even though many say HECO is to blame.

Whether that will happen could depend on whether the company’s neglect or negligence contributed to the destruction.

Hawaiian Electric, including its Maui subsidiary, is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, which decides what customers will pay for power. Now the pressure is building on PUC to investigate HECO’s responsibility before and during the fires.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed, including one by Maui County, accusing HECO of sparking the fire after failing to take steps to harden the grid against catastrophic wind events.

On the day of the fire, downed equipment also slowed evacuations.

Former PUC Consumer Advocate Jeff Ono said HECO appears to have failed to meet key obligations, like managing overgrowth near lines and installing some safety equipment, as shown in videos of sparking wires on the ground.

Edmund Clark, a retired renewable energy executive who lives on Maui, added that grid “needed work” and that some lines should have been underground. “We have a lot of old poles here, we have conductors that could be spaced further apart,” he said.

HECO has denied responsibility for causing the blaze. And in a PUC filing last month, the utility said it may request rate increases to pay for damage to its equipment, including 400 poles and 300 transformers and the labor to fix them and restore power….

Life of the Land Executive Director Henry Curtis said the non-profit has filed a letter with the PUC urging it to open an investigation into HECOs responsibility.

“The PUC has to determine whether ratepayers should pay to rebuild this structures that fallen or whether it’s the responsibility of the utility because they did something wrong,” Curtis said.

He added HECO has yet to file a report of an “accident” involving its equipment, which it did after blackouts following other incidents….

Sept 12, 2023: Life of the Land & PUC File Fire Related Questions to HECO

MN: Energy secretary talks electric grid improvements, federal fund

read … HECO indicates it could turn to ratepayers to help cover extensive fire rebuilding costs (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Oprah Winfrey 'terrorised and vilified' over her Hawaii relief fund

YN: …Oprah Winfrey was shocked and saddened after she was "terrorised and vilified online" over her Hawaii relief fund….

Oprah has admitted she was surprised by the backlash she received from trolls who accused the wealthy star of hypocrisy by asking her less well-off followers to donate cash. During an interview on 'CBS Mornings', she cited her new book about happiness and said of the trolling: "Well, this is a really great point about being happier in the midst of an onslaught of being terrorised and vilified online.

"I will say this. I came out of this experience with so much more compassion for young kids, because I was thinking, what if I didn't really know who I am? It will take you out. So all of the online attacks, lies, conspiracy theories, really took the focus off of what was the most important thing, which is the people of Maui." ….

"We’re going to create something and I still think it’s a really strong idea. Dolly Parton was right. Putting money directly in the hands of the people is a significant thing, and the model that has been created, I will say that as of today, 2,200 people have been cleared and verified, and those people are gonna get a notice from the People's Fund of Maui and are gonna have the money put into their account."

She concluded that the backlash over the fund made her feel "sad that we're in this state in our country"….

read … Oprah Winfrey 'terrorised and vilified' over her Hawaii relief fund

Lahaina Businesses Hoping To Reopen wait on Water Testing

CB: … The lights flickered on at Moku Roots last week for the first time since the fire. But until the county determines that the public drinking water system isn’t tainted with fire-related contaminants, the restaurant will remain closed.

It’s unclear exactly when the unsafe water advisory will be lifted but it’ll likely take at least a month as testing continues, the county’s top water official said.

“We need to get two clean screening rounds and then a clearance round for each zone. If the results indicate, we would need to flush the system after a detection. It takes nearly a week to get results,” John Stufflebean, Maui County director of water supply, said by email….

read … Lahaina Businesses Hoping To Reopen Face Daunting Challenges

Lawmakers take closer look at existing rules for management of dry brush

KHON: … The Honolulu Fire Department checks properties for firebreaks 30 feet from buildings and making sure grass near structures is no taller than 18 inches.

The city has issued 89 violations this year for property growth.

Kauai County issued 17 similar violations, with three under investigation. Not complying comes with warnings and eventually penalties.

“From that point on, we get our county vendors to clear land, and corp counsel works on the fees collecting the mitigation fees with the violation fees,” said Maui Fire Department Battalion Chief Ryan Otsubo….

CB: Honolulu Has A Hiring Problem. Here’s What That Means For Fire Mitigation Efforts - Honolulu Civil Beat

IM: Enforced State & County Fire Codes Can Limit Wildfire Damage | Ililani Media

read … Lawmakers take closer look at existing rules for management of dry brush

Resignations continue at liquor commission as Honolulu mayor hopes for ‘new beginning’

HNN: … The newest chair of the Liquor Commission is just eight months into his role as chair but has already announced he will be leaving in the coming months.

He’s not alone. In less than two years, three chairs and one vice chair have resigned amid accusations of corruption and discrimination at the commission.

The mayor’s office says Buckley will stay for the time being; according to rules, the commission needs at least three members to have a quorum.

If he leaves, there are only two out of five members, and the commission’s work would halt. That matters because the commission plays a vital role in the county’s economy, approving permits for businesses looking to sell alcohol.

“It just shows much of a mess it is,” said Robbie Baldwin, the owner of Scarlet, an LGBTQ nightclub in Honolulu. He is part of a lawsuit against the commission, arguing it has a history of harassment and discrimination against the business and employees.

“It’s further evidence that this organization is complete garbage and completely broken and needs to be reconstituted from the bottom up.”…

read … Resignations continue at liquor commission as Honolulu mayor hopes for ‘new beginning’ (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Honolulu EMTs, Paramedics Sue The City For Overtime (again)

CB: … A lawsuit filed a decade ago got the Emergency Services Department to update its payroll system, but that hasn't fixed the problem….

read … Honolulu EMTs, Paramedics Sue The City For Overtime

Online Sports Betting Under Consideration In Hawaii

KITV: … Maui Senator Angus McKelvey will be proposing this bill that would seek to legalize online betting in Hawaii. Right Now, more than 34 states and Washington D.C. have legalized some form of online sports betting and others are planning to launch their legal sports betting sites before the end of 2023.

Sen. Angus McKelvey, (D) West Maui – Kihei says ,"Everybody else but Hawaii but a handful of states are doing it. And additional revenues we are losing it and we need it now more than ever.

Senator Karl Rhoads, (D) Nuuanu – Chinatown says, "And the state doesn’t get the full benefit but if the state was taking all the money and we ran our own gambling operation say, but its not we’re enriching a private company. And we are getting a small cut.”

Senator McKelvey adds this bill will also emphasize responsible gambling practices, with age verification and measures allocating a portion of the revenue to support gambling prevention and treatment programs..

read … Online Sports Betting Under Consideration In Hawaii

Another lawsuit filed against city officials over Makaha crash — this time in federal court

HNN: … A new,expanded civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court over an alleged HPD police chase that ended with a serious crash in Makaha in September 2021.

Six people were hospitalized, most with critical injuries.

The new case, filed by the attorney for Dayten Gouveia, was submitted Monday.

It names Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm, Corporation Counsel Dana Viola, Police Chief Joe Logan and Deputy Chief Rade Vanic, as defendants….

Four Honolulu police officers are charged with crimes, but none specific to what happened to Gouveia.

Officer Joshua Nahulu, faces the most serious charge. He’s accused of causing an accident involving death or serious bodily injury to the driver of the sedan. Officers Erik Smith, Jake Bartolome and Robert Lewis III are charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy. The criminal trial is set for Dec. 18….

CB: Latest Lawsuit In Makaha Police Pursuit Case Invokes Racketeering Charge

SA: HPD pursuit policy ‘defective,’ lawsuit alleges

read … Another lawsuit filed against city officials over Makaha crash — this time in federal court

Defueling Red Hill won’t hurt readiness, Pentagon says

SA: … The Pentagon has officially told Congress that military operations in the Pacific will not be adversely affected by the closure of the Navy’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

During a news briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the notification “reflects the department’s ongoing commitment to defuel and ultimately close the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, while upholding our responsibility to ensure the readiness of our armed forces.”

The report was required by Section 331(c) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The provision states that the secretary of defense must first certify to the congressional defense committees that defueling the facility won’t adversely affect the military’s ability to fuel its Pacific operation before the military can begin draining the 104 millions of fuel in the tanks — which sit just 100 feet above a critical aquifer that most of Honolulu relies on for drinking water….

read … Defueling Red Hill won’t hurt rediness, Pentagon says

Lahaina Fire News:

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