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Friday, February 2, 2024
February 2, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:38 PM :: 1549 Views

Day One: 50 Candidates Pull Papers Statewide

PUC Approves $95M Rate Hike for 5-year HECO grid resilience plan

HECO New Welcome Home Rate: $0.62 per kwh

HECO: Blackouts This Weekend Will be Longer than Usual Thanks to New Policy

Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Wall That Heals Coming to Maui

Top Miske Lieutenant was Fake Cop and FBI informant

SA: … A lieutenant of alleged Hawaii crime boss Michael J. Miske Jr. was an oxycodone addict who sold methamphetamine while on federal probation and working as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, defense attorneys established Thursday.

Wayne Miller started his testimony Wednesday as part of a Dec 4, 2020, agreement with federal prosecutors….

Miller testified Thursday that he sold methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine while working as an FBI informant. He also is an oxycodone addict who forgets events and details, he acknowledged….

Miller also admitted that a .357 magnum with six rounds, a .22-caliber handgun with a silencer, a pair of handcuffs and three fake law enforcement badges were also in his car when he showed up to see his probation officer.

He admitted that the equipment was used by himself and Jacob “Jake” Ortiz during the kidnapping of the accountant, Robert Lee….

Kennedy noted how Miske fumigated numerous “cultural treasures” in Hawaii, and highlighted his pro bono work to tent the Neal S. Blaisdell Center when the city could not afford it.  (Buys favor from politicians with plata, not plombo.)

read … Alleged Miske lieutenant testifies about activities

Nightmare: With Stroke of Pen, Blangiardi unleashes more spending for more useless Rail

HNN: … With the stroke of a pen, $744 million will be released to finish Honolulu’s rail system all the way to Kakaako.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed an amended Full Funding Grant Agreement on Thursday.

The original deal, signed in 2012, provided over $1.5 billion from the Federal Transit Administration.

But funding stopped in 2017 after HART only received a little over half of the money. Federal authorities halted payments amid rail building, planning and management concerns.

Under the new agreement, $125 million is now available immediately — and the rest will be released in four separate phases.

“This is a big win (disaster) that will deliver millions in federal funding to complete Honolulu’s Skyline,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii….

read … ‘Big win’: City gets long-awaited federal funds to help build rail line to Kakaako

Campaign Donations Roll In For Honolulu Mayor's Reelection Bid

CB: .. Rick Blangiardi is so far unopposed in his quest for a second term.

Five City Council members up for reelection got over $219,000 as a group during the last half of 2023….Mayor Rick Blangiardi received about $289,000 in campaign donations during the second half of last year…

Some of the mayor’s biggest donors were top officials in his administration, including Roger Babcock, who oversees waste management and donated $4,000, and Laura Thielen, who oversees parks and donated $3,000, according to a campaign finance report filed Wednesday.

Nola Miyasaki, who oversees human resources, donated $3,000; Roger Morton, who oversees transportation, donated $2,500; Denise Iseri-Matsubara, who oversees housing, donated $2,000 and Dominic “Haku” Milles, who oversees design and construction, donated $1,000.

In addition to Babcock, Blangiardi’s campaign received $4,000, the contribution limit per person per entire election cycle, from 31 other donors ranging from major developers, construction and real estate to individuals with no occupation listed or described as retired….

The maximum donors included Honomobo Corp., which advertises modular homes on its website starting at about $222,000 for a two-bedroom unit. He also received $4,000 from Hawaii Estate Development Inc., Ward Development Management Co., Eco Houseware, Olomana Golf Links, Evergreen Adult Day Care and KH Makaha LLC, which does business as Makaha Valley Country Club….

read … Campaign Donations Roll In For Honolulu Mayor's Reelection Bid - Honolulu Civil Beat

Mazie Hirono Reelection Fund $1.8M: Bought n paid for by Military-Industrial Complex 

CB: … U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono has nearly $1.8 million in campaign cash and faces no Democrat in the Aug. 10 contest and a relatively unknown Republican in the Nov. 5 general election….

According to her filing Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, Hirono raised about a half-million dollars during the last three months of the year. That’s $200,000 more than in the previous quarter, suggesting fundraising momentum.

Roughly 80% of Hirono’s donations through all of last year — just under $400,000 — came from individuals. They include prominent local donors such as lobbyist Bruce Coppa, University of Hawaii President David Lassner, Oceanit executive Patrick Sullivan, developer Stanford Carr, Servco Pacific executive Mark Fukunaga and Alexander & Baldwin vice president Meredith Ching.

The other 20% — or $107,000 — came from political action committees. They include familiar ones from Hawaii like the Central Pacific Bank Federal PAC and national ones supporting abortion-rights candidates like Emily’s List, pro-labor PACs such as the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education and several major defense contractors including Lockheed Martin and BAE. Hirono serves on the Senate Committee on Armed Services….

read … Hirono Posts Solid Fundraising Numbers In Reelection Bid - Honolulu Civil Beat

Hotels Unions Think This is Year they can wipe out Vacation rentals

CB: … Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, chairman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee has authored an ambitious bill that would reshape the way short-term vacation rentals are regulated in Hawaii – and give counties power to phase them out completely over time. …

Currently, 5.5% or 30,000 of Hawaii’s 557,000 total housing units operate as short-term rentals, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization’s “Hawaii Housing Factbook,” published in June.

On some islands the percentages are much greater. On Oahu, the short-term rentals made up about 2% of the island’s housing supply; by contrast, Maui’s short-term market represented roughly 15% of the supply, UHERO reported.

UHERO estimated the presence of short-term vacation rentals in Honolulu raises housing costs by roughly 5%. …

On Friday, Keohokalole will discuss short-term housing issues in a joint committee hearing. His co-chairs are Maui Sen. Lynn Decoite, who chairs the Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and Sen. Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee. The only item on the agenda is the short-term rental bill.

The battle lines forming are largely the same as those of past years. On one side are companies like Airbnb, property owners who use the platforms to rent out homes and condos to tourists and an ecosystem of real estate agents and small businesses that support the owners and platforms.

One the other side are hotel industry executives and lobbyists, housing advocates and individuals and groups that want to limit tourist accommodations to places designated for tourism. Joining the push this year are groups like Lahaina Strong (Clue: methamphetamines), which has been leading a protest called “Fishing for Housing” at West Maui’s Kaanapali Beach. The Hawaii Association of Counties has submitted testimony supporting Keohokalole’s measure. …

read … A Statewide Ban On Vacation Rentals? The Idea Is Gaining Steam After The Maui Fires - Honolulu Civil Beat

Commercial ocean operators: Proposed permitting system would sink their industry

HNN: … Lawmakers heard emotional testimony at the state Capitol on Thursday morning as ocean recreation companies statewide joined in solidarity against a proposed permitting change.

They’re opposed to House Bill 2477, which would allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to issue commercial use permits by unsealed public auction. Under the proposal, existing businesses couldn’t sell their permits to another company and any prospective newcomers would need to win a bidding war.

“We’d be passing that buck on to the customer, correct?,” said Javier Cantellops, who owns diving company Maui Dreams. “I’d just jack my rates up and pass it on to the customer, which in turn would lower tourism.” ….

read … Commercial ocean operators: Proposed permitting system would sink their industry

Maui Has Yet To Launch A Covid-Era Housing Program That Could Provide $24 Million In Relief To Fire Survivors

CB: … Maui County is sitting on $24.5 million in pandemic relief money that could be going to help thousands of residents displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfires in Lahaina and Upcountry, according to state and county officials….

Since the fires, the state redirected another $16.4 million from the Covid-19 housing fund to Maui that was originally earmarked for the City and County of Honolulu. Eight days after the Maui fires destroyed more than 2,000 structures, the Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance ended new applications for Oahu’s program, according to the state.

These grants of up to $60,000 apiece — part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — can be used for past due mortgages, property taxes and other housing expenses for homeowners under 150% area median income who faced financial hardship during the pandemic.  …

In Hawaii County, $5.24 million has been distributed to 696 homeowners with an average grant of about $25,000 and on Kauai nearly $2 million has been provided to 294 homeowners with an average grant of about $30,000, according to a fund dashboard on the Hawaii Community Lending website.

“We’ve prevented foreclosure for 990 homeowners so far,” Gilbraith said.

A combined $4.8 million is left to disperse for Hawaii and Kauai counties….

read … Maui Has Yet To Launch A Covid-Era Housing Program That Could Provide $24 Million In Relief To Fire Survivors - Honolulu Civil Beat

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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