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Sunday, September 24, 2023
September 24, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:59 PM :: 2094 Views

Lahaina fire lawsuits hamstring release of information

The secret to reaching the next generation

Governor’s revised housing proclamation caves to NIMBYs

Lahaina Scammers

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 23, 2023

Honolulu Architect Is Headed To Prison For Bribery But Still Working Permits at DPP

CB: … In four months, Honolulu architect Bill Wong will be wearing a prison uniform and will be known as inmate No. 58344-509. 

But until then, Wong is free to run his architecture business as usual, drafting plans and submitting them to the scene of his crimes: the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting. 

More than two years after Wong admitted to bribing county permitting workers with over $100,000, and two months since he was sentenced, Wong still holds a state of Hawaii architecture license. The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, or DCCA, has yet to take any formal action against him.

Wong, 74, still has several active permit applications in Honolulu’s system and continues to submit plans to the department, even as recently as last week. He was originally supposed to report to prison on Sept. 7, but the court delayed the self-surrender date due to undisclosed “medical reasons.”

Asked for comment, DCCA would only say that a complaint is open and pending with the Regulated Industries Complaints Office, or RICO….

read … Honolulu Architect Is Headed To Prison For Bribery But Still Has His License

Lassner was one weird dude

Shapiro: … University of Hawaii President David Lassner made known he’ll retire at the end of 2024 in his usual low-key manner: an email to the Board of Regents.

“I have always been clear that when either the BOR or I decide it is time for me to step down, I want that to happen without acrimony, drama or lawyers,” he wrote.

(TRANSLATION: I know I am weird.)

It was typical of the class he’s displayed in presiding over UH for more than 10 years. He proudly noted he’s survived the longest in the pressure-­cooker job since Gregg Sinclair headed what was then a single campus of 5,000 students from 1942 to 1955….

(TRANSLATION: Lassner is weirder than that other weirdo from 81 years ago.)

As president of what is now a 10-campus system vital to the state’s future, he provided sorely needed stability following the tumultuous tenure and ugly exit of M.R.C. Greenwood in the wake of the bogus Stevie Wonder concert scandal….

(TRANSLATION: MRC Greenwood is a normal UH System President and we should expect a normie like her or Dobelle to be picked next.  This is Hawaii. It is destiny.)

Lassner had to contend with culture wars over the Mauna Kea telescopes, a deadly pandemic and capricious budgeting by the Legislature. He endured calls to resign from power-tripping lawmakers and votes of no confidence from a know-it-all faculty.

Through it all, he conducted himself with humility and purpose, coolly focusing on serving student needs ahead of politics.

(See?  Told you he was weird.)

Lassner took the job for $100,000 less than Greenwood and declined several pay raises he was due. He worked without a long-term contract and didn’t demand the $5,000 monthly housing allowance or golden retirement parachute given his predecessor.

(See?  Told you he was weird.)

He saved UH some $500,000 in annual administrative costs by taking on the role of Manoa chancellor in addition to UH system president, without a salary bump.

(See?  Told you he was weird.)

Lassner meshed well with former regents chairman Randy Moore, a respected mind of similar integrity (another weirdo), in attempting to build a UH culture that kept performance up and the volume down…. 

(And Moore is gone too.  Maybe now they can finally rehire Dobelle.  Destiny awaits.)

SA: Editorial: UH’s Lassner sets example to follow  

SA: Stephen Tsai: Suggestions in finding next UH president | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (

read … Zeal for public service defined Lassner at University of Hawaii 

Before Lahaina Burned, Hawaiian Electric Was Slow to Replace Poles That Posed Fire Risk

WSJ: … Utility company faces scrutiny from Congress and regulators over the role downed lines may have played in the blaze that killed at least 97 people ….

read … Before Lahaina Burned, Hawaiian Electric Was Slow to Replace Poles That Posed Fire Risk

Don’t blame climate change for fires

SA: … the January 2022 Tonga eruption, according to NOAA, increased water vapor in the atmosphere by about 10% —which will contribute to global warming for the next five years. 

So, what to do? To combat climate change (actually “weather change”), our Legislature has been pursuing CO2 emissions. Two consequential state laws, 100% renewable energy and net zero emissions, both by 2045, have effectively been marching orders to the state Public Utilities Commission and Hawaiian Electric. Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to focus resources on preparation for and adaptation to weather change? As a recent Pacific Business News editorial concluded: “As a matter of policy, we’ve been sacrificing basic resource management in favor of the climate crusade. That falls on lawmakers, and on all of us for letting them do so.”

Out of respect for those lives tragically lost in Lahaina, we suggest an end to the opportunistic rhetoric that the disaster was caused by climate change ….


read … Don’t blame climate change for fires

Caltech telescope removed from Maunakea summit--Will be Moved to Chile where Science is Appreciated

HTH: …  The 34-foot-diameter telescope was removed from the summit facility on Sept. 11 as part of the observatory’s decommissioning. The instrument has been disassembled and is being packed for an eventual shipment to Chile….

“In accordance with the permits guiding the decommissioning, cultural, construction and archaeological monitors have been and will be present at all appropriate phases,” said Caltech Submillimeter Observatory Director Sunil Golwala in a statement.

The full cost of the decommissioning is estimated to exceed $4 million….

read … Caltech telescope removed from Maunakea summit

AAR? Where Were Maui Police During The Fires?

CB: … Let’s hope we don’t have to wait two years to get the official version of what Maui police officers were doing on Aug. 8 in Lahaina, but Police Chief John Pelletier put that out there during a presentation to the Maui Police Commission last week.

What the commission saw was a preview of an internal “after action review” that Pelletier says is underway on the department’s response. 

Over 4,500 emergency calls and texts were made to Maui police Aug. 8, almost three times the normal daily volume, according to the department. The Sunshine Blog can only imagine how many calls there would have been made had Lahaina town still had cell service.

The commission was told a preliminary report would be available in two to three months, which feels more appropriate given all the questions that have been raised about roadblocks, traffic chaos and what residents were told and when. …

Related: How a Maui PD officer worked with community to open an evacuation route

read … Where Were Maui Police During The Fires? We'll Find Out Eventually

Rents Could Double For Some Ewa Beach Tenants In Affordable Housing Complex

CB: … Honolulu officials say they will investigate notices of rental increases that were issued to some Section 8 tenants at an affordable housing complex in Ewa Beach. 

Robei Broadous, administrator of the city’s Department of Community Services’ community assistance division, which oversees the city’s Section 8 voucher program, said the city was already aware of one instance of a tenant at Villages of Moe’e Ku receiving a notice that her rent would more than double. After an inquiry from Civil Beat, Broadous said the city would investigate whether 12 other families who hold Section 8 vouchers and live at the property have received similar notices.

If the city finds a pattern of Section 8 tenants being overcharged, the matter would be referred to the attorney general for investigation, she said.

One tenant at Villages of Moa’e Ku received a notice that rent for her three-bedroom apartment would rise from $2,032 to $4,656 — an increase of nearly 130%. Another, who has a federal Section 8 voucher, received notice that her one-bedroom rent would go from $1,701 to $2,330 — or an increase of about 37%. The rent hikes are supposed to go into effect on Nov. 1, according to notice letters provided to Civil Beat.

Villages of Moa’e Ku is an affordable housing complex managed by EAH Housing, a nonprofit organization that has developments in Hawaii and California. …

Villages of Moa’e Ku serves tenants making between $39,300 and $78,600 for a family of four. The range is $27,550 to $55,050 for individuals, according to the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Tenants who don’t have Section 8 vouchers can qualify for different units based on their income, and rents range from $1,348 for a three-bedroom to $464 for a one-bedroom, according to the complex’s website.  It’s unclear if the rents listed on the website take recent rental increases into account. All units in each of the complex’s three phases have a waitlist, the website says.

But rents work differently for tenants in the Section 8 program, which provides vouchers allowing tenants to rent from private landlords with payment assistance from the government. The voucher holder’s share of the rent cannot exceed 30% of their income, and the program pays the difference….

read … Rents Could Double For Some Ewa Beach Tenants In Affordable Housing Complex

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