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Friday, September 15, 2023
September 15, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:23 PM :: 1441 Views

VIDEO: What caused the Maui wildfires?

More than 11% of workers in Maui County file for unemployment after deadly wildfires

VIDEO: James O'Keefe goes undercover in Lahaina

Children's book author, liberty advocate to give talk on Oahu about freedom

​Grassroot Institute in the News

Green: Housing Emergency Order Will no longer cover Lahaina

CB: … Seeking compromise, a new document to be signed Friday restores environmental review, historic preservation and open meetings laws. …

The revised proclamation will walk back the most controversial aspects of the original proclamation, administration officials said.

For example, the proclamation will restore Hawaii’s environmental review statute, which requires environmental impact statements for certain developments. The document also will restore a statute relating to conserving historical resources, including Native Hawaiian burial grounds. A provision altering the authority of the Hawaii Land Use Commission, a state-level zoning authority, also has been removed, administration officials said.

The Sunshine Law also is back, which means the public will have the opportunity to testify on agenda items at working group meetings, which will be held virtually. 

Another change: the proclamation specifically will not cover development in Lahaina…. 

(This ain’t over yet: Separate Lahaina ‘Authority’ will make Lahaina into the next Kakaako.)

SA: Gov. Josh Green to amend Hawaii emergency housing panel powers

Better Idea: Do Lahaina Property Owners Have the Right to Rebuild?

read … Hawaii Governor Is Changing Course On His Sweeping Housing Order

Lahaina Distraction Can Help Rail Silence Critics, Get Away with more wrongdoing

CB: … The rules would infringe on the rights of some rail authority board members to speak publicly about the massive rail project, according to the attorney general….

State Attorney General Anne Lopez is warning the board of directors of the Honolulu rail authority that a proposed new board rule would infringe on the First Amendment right of some board members to discuss the controversial project in public.

House Speaker Scott Saiki has also objected to the proposed new rule, saying the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is venturing into “dangerous territory” because the rule would limit what Saiki’s appointee to the HART board can say publicly.

“I don’t know of another government agency that restricts speech through its rules and procedures,” Saiki said in an interview this week….

Iwasa has already been excluded since last year from executive sessions of the HART board because she has declined to sign a confidentiality agreement that was required by the board.

Iwasa said her understanding is violating the confidentiality agreement carries potential criminal penalties, and she cannot risk inadvertently violating any such agreement by, for example, downloading an email that includes confidential material.

The new proposed HART rules require all new city and state appointees to sign confidentiality agreements. 

CB: HART Board Defers Proposed New Rules

read … Hawaii AG Raises Concerns About Proposed New HART Rules

Star-Adv: Lahaina Distraction Can Allow Insiders to Clean up on Aloha Stadium Scheme

SA Editorial: … Given the size and complexity of the project — a new stadium and some kind of real estate development for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) — the state will need to provide a detailed financial analysis and plan if it wants to attract serious bidders using its P3 model.

That was one of the sensible conclusions reached in a new “market sounding” report produced by NASED officials last month. The report cited “significant concerns regarding the Project’s financial feasibility” by potential P3 partners….

NASED’s report revealed some understandable skittishness among potential developers, who expressed wariness during a webinar in June.

“The proposed Project is a relatively novel and untested procurement and delivery model,” the report said. “It asks the private sector to form a multi-disciplinary consortium, to assume risks the State is not willing to accept … and to apportion the risk to and within the private consortium.”…

There are only “a limited number of service providers” capable of managing a stadium; a lack of competition could affect what kind of stadium is built.

The goal is to complete a shiny new stadium in time for the 2028 University of Hawaii football season.  …

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

P3B: Industry concerned over Hawaii stadium financials 

CB: Let’s Build An Aloha Stadium with lots and lots of solar panels 

read … Editorial: Sharpen plans for new stadium

Maui sets date for beginning escorted visits to fire-ravaged Lahaina

HNN: … Maui hopes to begin escorting residents and businesses to fire-ravaged areas of Lahaina starting Sept. 25, but authorities stressed the timeline was fluid and asked people to have patience as they coordinate reentry operations with an ongoing EPA clean-up.

Maui Emergency Management interim Administrator Darryl Oliveira outlined the reentry plan in a news conference Thursday, underscoring the potential health risks of going into the burn zone.

He said people will be provided with protective gear, including respirators and special suits, and instructed on how to properly sift through debris while limiting exposure to toxic ash….

Here are the highlights of how the reentry plan will work:

By next Friday, the county will announce a system for applying for passes into the community. Re-entry will be allowed into zones cleared of toxic materials by the EPA.

Property owners and renters will also be contacted directly. “Our intent is to in advance notify residents of when we are going to identify a particular zone for reentry, communicate that to property owners, tenants and occupants,” Oliveira said.

The first reentry group will be allowed back into the community Sept. 25. Those groups will be limited to about 10 people. The elderly and children are advised not to go into the area, though Oliveira said he understood that some senior citizens would opt to return.

Oliveira said residents and businesses will be escorted into the area for their first two visits. After that, they’ll be allowed to return as many times as needed before a comprehensive debris removal is launched by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Residents will be allowed to bring insurance adjusters and faith-based leaders with them.

In addition to PPE, the county will provide translators, water, restrooms.

Officials also want residents to understand that some structures may be compromised, especially those multi-level buildings, so access may not be possible in some cases.

Details on the re-entry plan will be posted here.

HNN: American Lung Association questions state’s messaging on Lahaina air quality (hawaiinewsnow.com)

VIDEO: Maui emergency chief says public re-entry into Lahaina begins Sept. 25

MN: Lahaina residents could return to properties soon

SA: Lahaina property owners allowed to return Sept. 25

read … Maui sets date for beginning escorted visits to fire-ravaged Lahaina

$1000 Hotel Rooms? House GOP Wants Answers From FEMA On Maui Wildfires

CB: … access to housing appears to be a key concern, especially for an island state where supply is already limited.

The letter focused on a series of problems that arose during FEMA’s response to Hurricane Ian in Florida in 2022 that killed nearly 150 people.

Numerous homes were destroyed, the letter states, and there were challenges in providing trailers to survivors for temporary housing in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.

The committee wants to know if such trailers are even a possibility for Maui.

“It is important to understand the options for housing — whether there are sufficient hotel rooms and temporary options available or whether residents may be forced to relocate to the mainland,” the letter states.

Similarly, the committee members said they have concerns about accommodations for federal workers.

According to the letter, there have been reports that a number of FEMA employees have been staying in luxury hotels and resorts, some that charge $1,000 a night for a room.

While the letter states that committee staff was told that those employees were given a government rate that was “likely less than what was being reported” the committee still asked Criswell to detail the long-term housing plan for federal relief workers….

read … $1000 Hotel Rooms? House GOP Wants Answers From FEMA On Maui Wildfires

Maui County Council considers formal investigation into wildfire response

SA: … A Maui County Council committee is considering a possible investigation into how firefighters, police, emergency management and public works officials performed while responding to the wildfires in August…. 

KHON: Multiple investigations into Maui wildfire, could it have been prevented?

read …  Maui County Council considers formal investigation into wildfire response

$7.5M Housing First Building: Did City buy a DPP ‘Malasada Special’?

CB: … A $7.5 million apartment building purchased by the City and County of Honolulu in 2018 to provide housing for low-income and homeless people is now sitting vacant due to problems with the building. 

Even though the city spent more than $335,000 on repairs, tenants lived there for less than five years, and the future of the Waikiki building remains uncertain.

Honolulu purchased the eight-story property at 436 Ena Road in April 2018 using federal Community Development Block Grant funds and it was the first city-developed project in Waikiki to accept Housing First vouchers for its 33 studio apartments.

($7.5M / 33 = $227K per unit)

An assessment completed at the time by G70, a civil engineering company, deemed the building in “fair condition” and said it was ready to be occupied….

But assessors also noted “code compliance deficiencies and maintenance issues.” 

For example, the roof was in poor condition and leaking, and assessors recommended it be completely removed and reconstructed. A new fire sprinkler system was needed; the elevator had to be redone; “extensive accessibility modifications” were required, including the installation of access ramps; and water infiltration points needed to be sealed, among other repairs, according to the assessment report….

(CLUE: Built in 2008.  Somebody did substandard construction thanks to malasadas delivered to DPP.  Now the City is left holding the bag.)

Since its purchase, the city has spent $335,886 working on the building, including $100,000 for “miscellaneous repairs” in 2018, $200,476 on fire alarm upgrades in 2020, $13,947 on emergency roof repairs in 2021 and $21,463 fixing a fire suppression system in 2022, according to the city’s Department of Community Services. 

At first, tenants were moved around within the building while repairs were conducted, Formby said. But by early this year, the city decided the repairs needed were too extensive, and the 12 tenants who remained had to move out. …

Guy Fong, the registered agent of Hale Waikiki LLC, the building’s previous owner, also could not be reached for comment….

read … Why Everybody Had To Move Out Of This Affordable Housing Project

U.S. government files motion to block prominent physician’s testimony in Red Hill suit

HNN: … the U.S. government is trying to block the testimony of a prominent Hawaii physician in a Red Hill lawsuit that includes allegations of medical negligence.

Dr. Jason Keifer, a psychiatrist and founder of Brain Health Hawaii, has treated surfers Mikey O’Shaughnessy and Carissa Moore, along with Red Hill families sickened by tainted water from the Red Hill fuel leaks in 2021. Keifer said in court records that he’s seen firsthand the “negative impact of the failure to assess, diagnose and treat symptomatic Red Hill fuel exposed patients.”…

Plaintiffs’ attorney Kristina Baehr said the military knows “how to treat toxic exposure for jet fuel,” but failed to in the case of the Red Hill-sickened families.

“Every defendant that I asked was really clear about the standard of care. Every single government employee said that standard of care is uniform. Take basic labs, x-ray, medical history, advised of risks. That happened only for the service members and not for their families,” said Baehr.

But the government, in court records, said Keifer’s testimony is “irrelevant” and should be stricken.

“They want to move to exclude the medical negligence claim,” said Baehr….

HNN: Business Report: Sen. Hirono on Navy's lack of proactiveness in Hawaii (hawaiinewsnow.com)

SA: Letter: Statement on Red Hill shows Navy’s deception | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … U.S. government files motion to block prominent physician’s testimony in Red Hill suit

Cop, acquaintance indicted in Ka‘u home invasion

HTH: .. A 31-year-old Puna patrol officer accused of participating in an Aug. 15 home invasion in Ka‘u is expected to make his first court appearance in the case today.

Mark Kealoha Kaili Jr. of Keaau has an 11:30 a.m. arraignment and plea scheduled before Kona Circuit Judge Wendy DeWeese. Kaili, who’s charged with first-degree burglary and third-degree assault, was indicted Sept. 5 by a Kona grand jury, moving his case from District Court to Circuit Court.

According to police, Kaili and an acquaintance, 27-year-old Cody Kuaili’aimoku Kanahele, entered a Naalehu home, both reportedly wearing masks, and allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old male resident, Braden Paea, whom police said is Kanahele’s cousin.

Kanahele also was indicted the same day on the same charges. He’s scheduled for arraignment and plea at 11:30 a.m. Monday before 3rd District Chief Judge Robert Kim, which indicates the state intends to try Kaili and Kanahele separately….

BIN: Hawai‘i Island police officer indicted on assault, burglary charges : Big Island Now

read … Cop, acquaintance indicted in Ka‘u home invasion

Honolulu City Council proposal seeks to help state collect unpaid traffic fines

SA: …Two Honolulu City Council members want the city administration to work with the state to collect a reported $81 million in uncollected assessed traffic fines owed to the State of Hawaii.

Council member Calvin Say and Council Chair Tommy Waters have introduced Resolution 211 urging the city and state to collaborate on collecting unpaid fines for speeding tickets and other traffic violations that are owed to Hawaii’s taxpayers.

But Say and Waters’ requested collection effort comes with a catch: that delinquent fines collected from Oahu’s traffic violators be retained and deposited into Honolulu’s over $2.3 billion general fund….

read … Honolulu City Council proposal seeks to help state collect unpaid traffic fines

How many Oahu water bills were double-charged?

SA: … “On Aug. 24, 2023, the Board of Water Supply processed an automatic bill payment file in error. This affected just over 1,000 customers in the Hawaii Kai to Kailua areas whose deductions were scheduled for Aug. 10, 2023. Refunds were issued directly to their bank accounts on Sept. 8, 2023, and we are in the process of mailing letters of notification and apology to all of them. We regret that this mistake occurred and want to assure our customers that the automatic bill payment service remains a convenient and reliable way for them to pay their bills. If they have any questions or concerns about this matter, we have dedicated team members to assist them. They can get help by calling 808-748-5040 or emailing us at help@hbws.org, Monday through Friday between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.”

Affected customers had payments deducted correctly on Aug. 10 and in error on Aug. 24.

read … How many Oahu water bills were double-charged?

Lahaina Fire News:

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