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Sunday, November 12, 2023
November 12, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:30 PM :: 2281 Views

Owning in a Burn Zone

YIGBY law would be "dream situation" for Hawaii housing

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 11, 2023

Honolulu Council approves self-certification for permits

VIDEO: High Cost of Housing Freaks out Gigantic Baritone Cat

Filling Hawaii Legislature is all about connections

Shapiro: … To understand why it’s so hard to change things for the better in Hawaii, just look at the list of nominees the Maui Democratic Party sent Gov. Josh Green to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Gil Keith-Agaran.

The party’s three choices were:

>> State Rep. Troy Hashimoto, former chairman of the Maui Democratic Party and executive assistant to former Maui Council Chairman Mike White.

>> Jason Economou, a lobbyist for Maui Realtors.

>> Justin Hughey, former House candidate, special education teacher and former high official of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Collectively, they reflect a compendium of special interests that control the Democratic Party and elected offices here: entrenched lawmakers and their top aides, party functionaries, lobbyists, development interests and public worker unions….

Governors once could appoint anybody they pleased to vacant House or Senate seats, as long as the appointee was from the same political party as the outgoing lawmaker.

But when Linda Lingle was elected Hawaii’s first Republican governor in 40 years, one of many measures undertaken by Democratic legislators to handcuff her was to require that governors fill legislative vacancies from a list of three candidates provided by the relevant political party.

Among the first beneficiaries was Keith-Agaran, a partner in a politically influential law firm and a double appointee like Hashimoto.

He was appointed by Lingle to a House seat from the Democratic Party’s list in 2009, and then appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill a Senate vacancy in 2013.

Without ever facing a stern test at the ballot box, he rose to such powerful positions as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of Ways and Means in charge of the state’s public works budget….

When Keith-Agaran resigned from the Senate to avoid conflict-of-interest accusations after his law firm moved to cash in on Lahaina wildfire litigation, he made a point that he was originally appointed to the Legislature, not elected, and his law firm was always his top priority.

“My professional responsibilities are to my clients so I would pick my clients,” he told Honolulu Civil Beat. “I was appointed to this position. I didn’t run for it initially so I’m not wedded to staying in the Legislature.”…

read … Filling Hawaii Legislature is all about connections

Peter Principle: Hawaii's Political Scions Rise to level of Incompetence        

CB: … The offspring of Hawaii’s political elite may get elected easily enough the first time around — only to find that higher office eludes them.

Ken Inouye, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, could be the latest example. The 59-year-old has announced that he will run in his first election next year, seeking to represent Waipio, Waikele and Mililani in the state House of Representatives. The solidly Democratic District 37 seat is currently held by Democrat Trish La Chica, who was appointed to the vacant position by Gov. Josh Green in February.

It seems the children of elected officials often are defeated when they seek a higher office than the one they previously held, especially if that office is beyond the Legislature and Honolulu City Council.

Their lack of success might be explained by Hawaii’s political version of the Peter Principle — a management concept saying employees rise in the company hierarchy to the highest level of their incompetence rather than competence….

(TRANSLATION: Ken Inouye was a fair to middling punk rocker.)

read … Jonathan Okamura: Name Recognition Only Takes Hawaii's Political Scions So Far

Governor: Money For Hawaii Convention Center Roof Will Go To buy off Lahaina Plaintiffs, Maintain Old Boy Control Over HECO

CB: … Some $172.6 million previously appropriated for numerous public purposes such as Hawaii Convention Center roof repairs (LOL!), state parks renovations and agricultural warehouses will instead be used for Maui wildfire responses, according to a memo from Gov. Josh Green to his department heads….

(TRANSLATION: Green made a list of the most useless spending projects and raided them.  Executive Branch version of a gut n replace.)

Luis Salaveria, the state’s director of Budget and Finance, said Saturday the money will go to cover the state’s support of wildfire recovery efforts.

It is not clear, Salaveria said, the extent to which the money could be used for a multi-part plan to compensate victims, rebuild homes and commercial properties for those who lost them and better manage the risks of wildfires.

Green announced the first part of the plan on Wednesday, unveiling the $150 million Maui Recovery Fund designed to compensate people who were seriously injured or families of those who died. Such victims and families will be eligible for more than $1 million each if they agree not to pursue claims in court, Green said.

Salaveria said it was not clear if part of the $172.6 million could go to this victims’ fund.

The state, Hawaiian Electric Co., Kamehameha Schools and Maui County are expected to contribute to the Maui Recovery Fund. But only Hawaiian Electric has been willing to provide a dollar figure, saying it will put in $75 million through liability insurance proceeds. 

($75M to save old boy power center from being taken over by outside creditors via bankruptcy.)

Kamehameha Schools on Friday said it was committed to participating in the fund but said “details of that initiative are still being worked out.”

Green has not said how much money the state will provide or where the money will come from….

read … Governor: Money For Hawaii Projects Statewide Will Go To Maui Fire Response Instead

Maui Recovery Fund becomes Latest Excuse for Unconstitutional Tourist Fee

SA: … Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday revealed important new details for a Maui Recovery Fund to be tapped by families of those killed or severely injured in the fires — and foreshadowed much more for the state’s future.

The recovery fund would offer an estimated $1 million-plus settlement for each eligible payee; in exchange, they would waive the right to sue any of the fund contributors — so far, the state, Maui County, Hawaiian Electric and Kamehameha Schools. Green expects more donors for the fund, currently at $150 million….

(CLUE: $150M / $1M = 150.  Duh.)

As outlined by Green, the fund is but one key component of a global “One ‘Ohana Initiative” — other fire-relief programs already underway include $120 million for housing assistance, $12.5 million in forgivable business loans and $100 million for affected families with children.

But what all Hawaii residents — not just those on Maui — must start paying attention to are the new components being discussed to fund overall recovery, plus future mitigations statewide. These will reach well beyond Maui, via legislative and regulatory policies that are sure to affect local pocketbooks….

(CLUE: If HECO management were liable, ratepayers could not be made to pay.)

That’s spurred Green, Hawaiian Electric and other leaders to start devising a wide-ranging legislative package for new programs.

To be broached when the 2024 Legislature convenes in January: Bills on wildfire mitigation, hardening the power utility system against such risk, enhancing warning systems, and ensuring that homeowners insurance is available and affordable.

Also gaining new urgency: a proposed climate impact fee charged to tourists and general tax revenue that can be leveraged through bond financing, in order to avoid significant increases to energy bills for Hawaii residents….

FOX: Maui fire victims say Hawaii’s $150M fund comes with ‘strings attached’: Diamond Garcia

TOURIST FEE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Crandall v. Nevada - Wikipedia

read … Editorial: Expect new fees to aid recovery | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Revealed: Mistakes that blocked Maui wildfire escape routes

BBC: … U'i wanted to leave by the main highway out of town, taking the Lahainaluna Road. But when she eventually reached the intersection with the highway, the road was closed.

Instead, police were directing cars to Front Street, which runs parallel to the shoreline and had become a "parking lot" of backed-up cars. With flames on either side of them, and black smoke swallowing the trail of headlights behind, she had little choice but to drive forward, one inch at a time.

"I thought, 'Oh my god, we're not moving fast enough'," she recalled….

The town is supposed to have an emergency siren - but it was never activated. Many people decided to self-evacuate at around the same time - when they could see the smoke billowing from roofs nearby. That meant that traffic was bumper-to-bumper.

But Maui Police also blocked many roads, adding to the congestion. They say they did this for two reasons: to stop people driving into the path of the fire, and to prevent people from driving near downed power lines.

"If there was a downed power line, that was live, we want to make sure you don't go over a downed power line," Chief of Police Pelletier said in August.

In an interview with the BBC, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen confirmed that had influenced the response by local authorities. "We were telling everyone throughout the day to treat the power lines as if they were energised," he added….

Police said they were simply trying to stop people from getting electrocuted. But was the power even on?

Not according to Hawaiian Electric. The local electricity company has told the BBC that the power was switched off that morning at 6:40 local time (16:40 GMT) when a brush fire was first reported. Authorities said the fire was totally contained by about 10:00 local time, hours before the afternoon blaze that would engulf the town.

"The control room advised the Maui Police Department on multiple occasions during the day, starting in the morning and extending into the late afternoon, that the company's lines in Lahaina were not energised," Hawaiian Electric told the BBC.

Hawaiian Electric said the police called its "trouble centre" 18 times on the day of the fire. It has given a recording of one of these conversations to the BBC. In the recording, which occurred at 16:11 local time during the height of the evacuation, police asked whether the power around the road of Lahainaluna was switched off.

"It's off right now," a Hawaiian Electric employee said….

RELATED: Audio Reveals HECO Informing Maui PD Lahaina Power is Off

read … Revealed: Mistakes that blocked Maui wildfire escape routes - BBC News

As Big Island Police Chief, Ben Moszkowicz Tries Transparency

CB: … When his officers fatally shot a 30-year-old suspect on the Big Island in September, Chief Ben Moszkowicz said he didn’t hesitate to make body camera footage of the shooting publicly available.

Two days after the Sept. 23 shooting in Puna, Moszkowicz released video that showed the officers’ actions from the minutes preceding the shooting to the immediate aftermath.

Moszkowicz, who was sworn in as chief in January after serving 22 years with the Honolulu Police Department, says he’s committed to communicating with the public about incidents involving his officers.

This year has put him to the test. There have been three officer-involved shootings so far — four counting one in which an officer shot a dog. …

read … In Rainy Hilo, Big Island Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz Is Seeing Sunshine

Lahaina Fire News: 

Legislative Agenda:

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