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Thursday, September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:09 PM :: 1326 Views

Lahaina Residential Reentry Begins Monday

New Bill from Guam Delegate to Legalize Cockfighting in U.S. Territories

“The cost of disasters may be allocated to all HECO ratepayers”

IM: …The cost of disasters may be allocated to all ratepayers.

(CLUE: Binary Choice: Rate Hikes or Bankruptcy.  Keep reading.)

In essence, if a disaster would increase rates on one island by more than 15%, the costs can be spread out statewide unless all rates would increase by more than 15%.

HECO, MECO, HELCO, and KIUC have combined revenue of about $3.5 billion. Thus, a surcharge up to approximately $500M per year for 10 years could be charged to all electric ratepayers.

“Any utility that sustains damage to its facilities as a result of a state of emergency or local state of emergency… and incurs costs related to the restoration and repair of its facilities which, if assessed only on the utility ratepayers of the affected utility service territory, may result in a rate increase of more than fifteen per cent for the average ratepayer in that utility service territory, may apply to the public utilities commission in accordance with this section to recover the costs provided herein through a monthly surcharge which shall be assessed on a statewide basis and shall be based on the utility's net restoration and repair costs; provided that the surcharge shall not result in an assessment of more than fifteen per cent for the average ratepayer in each of the other utility service territories and provided further that the public utilities commission shall exclude ratepayers in utility service territories with rates that may be substantially higher than other utility service territories in the State.” (HRS §269-16.3(a))…

(CLUE: Rate hikes may not be applied if the damages were caused by the negligence of HECO management.  And if HECO bosses were negligent, they may be liable for $5B in damages to non-HECO people and property in Lahaina.  Result: Binary Choice: Rate Hikes or Bankruptcy.) 

read … Hawai`i Public Utility Commission`s Legal Framework for Investigating Maui Fire

In wake of devastating wildfire, experts propose new sources of water for parched West Maui

HNN: … But Strauch also presented a potential solution: Expand plans for the county’s new wastewater recycling system by repurposing and restoring reservoirs, pipelines and ditches to make the recycled water for irrigation available across West Maui….

The plan would also bring drinkable water from two high-mountain tunnels into the county system….

Chang said a funding ask could be added to the state’s request for disaster relief funding from congress. and Commission Member Neil Hannahs was ready to sell the idea to funders, including FEMA, insurance companies and philanthropic organizations.

“If they could see the impact of investment being a real long term improved use of water,” he said, “and mitigation of the risk for wildfire because you have more land less land in fallow.”

The plan would also have the support of environmentalists who support traditional farming and have fought for reuse of wastewater instead of injecting into the ground...and polluting the ocean.

Earthjustice Attorney David Henkin called the plan a “win-win.”

“This recycled water is a very valuable resource for irrigation, and it’s also very harmful to the reef,” Henkin said. “So let’s keep it off the reef and reuse it.”

read … In wake of devastating wildfire, experts propose new sources of water for parched West Maui

Deputy Prosecutor Blows Cases? Fired After Using Confidential Crime Scene Photos

HNN:  … HNN Investigates reported Monday that a high-profile murder case could be affected after the deputy prosecutor from the Elder Abuse unit was found to have been showing crime scene photos and other confidential information about active criminal cases during public presentations.

The presentations were designed to educate kupuna about protecting themselves.

Hawaii News Now has learned that other high-profile cases could also be impacted.

Among them: The case against Keith Catolico, who is charged with about a dozen crimes connected to alleged sprees from 2020 and 2021, including a jewelry heist at a Restaurant Row store and a Kahala home invasion in which a 76-year old woman was retrained using zip ties.

The case was being prosecuted by the unit, which has now put a new deputy prosecutor in charge. A new deputy prosecutor is also now in charge of the high-profile murder case against Juan Tejedor Baron, who is accused of brutally murdering 73-year old Gary Ruby and then encasing his body in concrete in the bathtub of his Hawaii Loa Ridge home.

Baron’s attorney, Myles Breiner, has filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the actions of the now-fired deputy, which he contends could have “huge, huge impacts” on a number of cases.

Megan Kau, a former deputy prosecuting attorney turned defense attorney, added that terminating the deputy doesn’t fix the problem because the crime scene photos and confidential case information were already shown to hundreds of people at the presentations…. 

HNN: City prosecutor: Extra measures possible to ensure impartial jury in high-profile murder case

SA: Prosecutor handling Hawaii Loa murder case is fired

read … Deputy prosecutor fired amid misconduct concerns that could impact high-profile criminal cases

Multiculturalism Is Tourism

JSTOR: … With statehood in 1959 came “Aloha Spirit” tourism, turning Hawai‘i’s ethnic diversity into a commodity that benefited both business and US foreign policy….

read … Consuming Hawai‘i’s Golden People

Who’s Behind UHERO?

CB: … The organization, housed on campus at Sanders Hall, is also supported by a virtual Who’s Who in the islands: Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii Community Foundation, HMSA, Kamehameha Schools, The Queen’s Health Systems, Pacific Resource Partnership, Honolulu Board of Realtors, Foodland Super Market, Servco Pacific, United Public Workers, The Howard Hughes Corp., Alexander & Baldwin and DR Horton, among others.

With friends like those, it’s hardly surprising that people take UHERO seriously. What’s mostly driving its success, however, is a desire for well-written, informed reports on our most pressing issues. To use a familiar phrase, in a crisis there is also opportunity.

“Every crisis sort of elevates the community’s recognition of what we’re doing and has resulted in a significant increase in and community support for UHERO,” said Bonham. “Every time there’s a crisis, people are hungry for information.”…

the wildfires report is a departure. It was driven in part because of a decision by UHERO’s co-founder and executive director, Carl Bonham, to resist responding immediately to media inquiries from around the globe about the economic impact of the disaster in Lahaina, which left at least 97 people dead.

“Frankly, I don’t think I spoke with a reporter for a week, week and a half in the days and weeks after the fire — it might have even been two weeks, because I didn’t think it was appropriate,” said Bonham, an economics professor. “And that’s generally been the approach that (co-founder) Byron Gangnes and I have followed as we started to grow — to really try to be cognizant of much more than just the economics.”…

KHON: Affordable housing crisis in Hawaii continues to plague the state

read … Chad Blair: This Group Of UH Experts Has Become A One-Stop Shop For Policy Analyses - Honolulu Civil Beat

Legislators Fly Around on Your Dime

CB: … Rep. Sonny Ganaden charged $1,345 for the 2023 National Conference of State Legislatures summit in Indianapolis thus summer. He has now returned $240, thanks to a price reduction in airfare….

Rep. Andrew Takuya Garrett spent $1,834 for travel and lodging for the 2023 National Caucus of Environmental Legislators National Forum, lodging for the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators annual meeting, lodging for the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Innovations Task Force and lodging for 2023 NCSL Legislative Summit — all of it during August, and all of it in Indianapolis.

Rep. Daniel Holt used $838 from his allowance to attend the 2023 Convention, Sports, and Entertainment Facilities Conference in San Diego.

Rep. Linda Ichiyama spent $504 for airfare, lodging and meals for the House Water and Land Committee to visit Hawaii island, specifically to visit with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Na Ala Hele Trails Program.

And Rose Martinez paid $977 to both the NCSL Legislative Summit noted above and the APEC Women and the Economy Forum in Seattle…

read … Spending their allowance

‘A sign of hope’: New tactic shows promise in shutting down game rooms permanently

HNN: … One of the most recent game rooms busts on Oahu was right across the street from an elementary school in Kalihi Valley.

The situation has gotten so bad city leaders are trying a new tactic: Going after landlords.

“These rooms have been operating for almost 10 years each,” said Corp. Alexander Watson of HPD. “We’ve raided them many times and they keep reopening so, it’s very frustrating for us.”

Watson said the game room in Kalihi was originally below the liquor store at the corner of Kalihi and Laumaile streets.

Kalihi Uka Elementary has noticed a difference. Principal Derek Santos said a tree on campus that was across from the game room used to be a hub for drug deals.

“People would literally stand on the side of the tree at all hours of the school day and drug deals would happen,” said Santos. “So there’s less and less now.”

Councilmembers Andria Tupola and Tyler Dos Santos-Tam want to further strengthen the city’s ability to go after landlords.

Their new bills would allow the city Department of Planning and Permitting to fine landlords up to $150,000 and give police the ability to serve penalties for building and fire codes and land use violations. HPD and DPP would work together to enforce the law.

“If they’re able to go in and immediately say, illegal walls, illegal wiring, no building permit, that goes to the landlord, and that, I think, is to the point of discouraging the landlords from continuing this sort of operation,” said Dos Santos-Tam.

Tupola said there are 16 active game rooms in her Leeward Oahu district….

SA: Council legislation to crack down on illegal game rooms

CB: Landlords Hosting Illegal Game Rooms Could Face Fines Of $1,000 Per Day

KITV: City councilmembers crack down on illegal game rooms with bills to hold landlords accountable

read … ‘A sign of hope’: New tactic shows promise in shutting down game rooms permanently (

After 164 Violations, Driving Scofflaw May Finally Get jail

SA: … The 46-year-old man arrested in the Feb. 15 hit-and-run collision that killed a McKinley High School student pleaded no contest Wednesday to driving without a valid driver’s license on Jan. 5, just six weeks prior to the fatal incident.

Mitchel Miyashiro, who has never served any time despite his receiving citations for 164 traffic violations and crimes, could face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine when he is sentenced for the misdemeanor.

Honolulu District Judge Thomas Haia accepted his no-contest plea and waiver of his right to a trial. However, rather than set sentencing, the judge agreed to a request by his lawyer, Rick Sing’s, for a pre-sentencing investigation.

Sing said he was unavailable on dates suggested by the court in November and December, so Haia agreed to a return date of Jan. 10, saying that because it was not a felony, he could take up to 90 days.

The judge asked Miya­shiro whether he was promised anything in return for his plea, to which Miyashiro said “No.”

He told Miyashiro, clad in jeans and a blue-checked shirt, that on Jan. 10, “You should be prepared to turn yourself in to jail.” Miyashiro and Sing declined comment Wednesday….

read … Suspect in fatal hit-and-run pleads no contest to driving without valid driver’s license

‘This has got to end’: Pipes leaking millions of gallons of water a month at Dillingham Airfield still not fixed

HNN: …  The Army owns Dillingham Airfield, but the DOT is currently leasing it.

Over the years, HNN has talked to the state lawmakers who represent the area, all reporting the leaks have gone on for at least 10 years….

“So yesterday we went out, the Department of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen gave us a tour of the area and told us the state could get this work in one day, we just need the army’s approval,” said State Sen. Brenton Awa, who represents the area.

HNN obtained a letter sent by DOT Director Ed Sniffen to Army Garrison Hawaii on July 20.

It states that under its current lease with the Army, all airport “improvements” by the DOT must be submitted for review and approval by the Army….

The Army provided a statement on the issue that reads:

“The Army is working with Hawaii Department of Transportation to refine their repair plans to meet the requirements and standards of the National Historic Preservation Act in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Department. Once the final plans meet the requirements of NHPA, the water system repairs can begin. The Army is committed to working with stakeholders to find collaborative solutions to water system repair and lease renewal concerns while meeting all regulatory requirements. The Army participates in a regular working group concerning the airfield and its future. The last meeting was Aug. 30, 2023.”…

(Wow.  Just wow.)

read … ‘This has got to end’: Pipes leaking millions of gallons of water a month at Dillingham Airfield still not fixed

City in high-stakes talks with military over proposed new landfill site

HNN: … Blangiardi told HNN the city is in early talks with Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, about the future of Oahu’s trash.

“We’ve asked them to help us solve a problem,” said Blangiardi.

“The sensitivity about water could not be any greater.”

One idea is to move the landfill to military property that the city would take over.

Blangiardi says there are multiple military sites under discussion and the choice would need Department of Defense approval, but he’s repeatedly promised it won’t be on the west side.

“The tone has been very ‘we want to help,’” he said. “Nobody said it’s a bad idea.”…

In 2021, the Navy’s fuel leaks from its Red Hill fuel facility near Pearl Harbor sickened thousands of people, damaged relations with the community and put all military properties under a spotlight.

“They need a friendlier Hawaii towards them and I think we are in that dance right now,” said Blangiardi. “They are looking for some opportunity to create some good will,” he added.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command told HNN the military currently uses about 5% of the land in the state.

“We are meticulously evaluating each parcel to determine if any of these meet the parameters established by Act 73 and are in a condition suitable for transfer to the City and County of Honolulu for a landfill,” said U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs, in a statement….

read … City in high-stakes talks with military over proposed new landfill site

Lahaina Fire News:



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