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Thursday, March 14, 2024
March 14, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:21 PM :: 1190 Views

House Passes State Budget

Three Gun Bills on the Move

How One East Hawaii TVR Strangled on Regulations and Fees

A monstrosity built with tea leaves and pasted together with poi

Lahaina: 3,558 people still living in Hotels

CB: … More than 3,500 people who survived the Aug. 8 fires in Lahaina are still living in hotels set up as emergency shelters, unable or unwilling to move into longer term housing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering through direct-lease contracts with Maui homeowners.

But time is running out. With the agency’s non-congregate sheltering program set to end in four weeks, it’s unclear if all the remaining families will find acceptable placements before having to leave the hotels….

As of Wednesday, FEMA-provided data showed 1,236 properties for eligible fire survivors had been secured, but only 432 families have been placed in them. The number of eligible households for the program fluctuates, but has been less than the number of units secured….

FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Curtis Brown told the crowd at last week’s community meeting that the goal is to house 300 households per week. He said Wednesday night after another Lahaina community meeting that only 64 families had been housed in the past week, but remained optimistic.

“It’s moving faster now,” he said, noting there are about 400 households matched with units now in the pipeline….

But as of Wednesday, there are still 3,558 people in 1,444 households living in 12 hotels or other properties through FEMA’s non-congregate sheltering program, according to the American Red Cross, which is running it.

That program, which includes three meals a day and is the most expensive way to house survivors, is set to expire April 10. McCauley said last week the state has asked for the deadline to be extended, and FEMA is reviewing the request….

read … FEMA Is Struggling To Move Maui Fire Survivors Into Homes Before Its Hotel Program Ends

FEMA Urged to Speed Access for COFA Citizens

SA: … Hawaii’s congressional delegation in a letter Tuesday urged Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell to reopen enrollment for the Individuals and Households Program to include Compacts of Free Association citizens — citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau who can live and work in the U.S. without a visa indefinitely….

The FEMA-run Individuals and Households Program provides financial assistance and direct serv­ices to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster. It is one of the many FEMA-run assistance programs providing support to victims of the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui.

To be eligible for FEMA assistance, applicants must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals or qualified noncitizens, according to FEMA’s website. A provision in the newly signed law includes giving COFA citizens access to FEMA-run programs, the lawmakers wrote in the letter….


read … Delegation urges access to FEMA program for COFA citizens

Keith Kaneshiro trial is finally underway

SA:  … At long last, trial has begun in the pay-to-prosecute case against former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, engineering firm CEO Dennis Mitsunaga and four of his associates. Jury selection started Tuesday, and the public is eager to hear details about whether Kaneshiro was bribed with campaign contributions to pursue prosecution of a former Mitsunaga employee….

HNN: Potential jurors in bribery trial undergo questioning from attorneys

read … Keith Kaneshiro trial is finally underway

Louis Kealoha Denied Sentence Reduction

CB: … just last month that Louis Kealoha, the disgraced and incarcerated former chief of the Honolulu Police Department, had asked a federal judge to cut some time off his sentence. He argued that he’s been a model prisoner.

Maybe so. But on Wednesday U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright denied Kealoha’s request. Kealoha is in a federal prison in Oregon….

Seabright added after eight pages of dense legal analysis, even if Kealoha met the criteria, he wouldn’t have granted the reduction anyway, given that “Kealoha repeatedly abused his position of trust.”…

read … The Sunshine Blog

SB3335: Recreational Marijuana Triple-Referral in House 

CB: … Legislation to allow recreational use of marijuana for adults cleared two committees Wednesday at the Legislature, one day before a pass-or-die deadline. But Senate Bill 3335, given a “triple referral” in the House — meaning it has to be approved at three separate hearings, usually the kiss of death for bills — still faces considerable opposition, most notably from law enforcement groups.

Steve Alm, the Honolulu prosecutor, is making the case that marijuana is not a benign drug, especially to youth. The more legislators get this, he believes, the more inclined they will be to vote “no” on SB 3335….

MM: Hawaii Joint House Panels Advance Senate-Passed Marijuana Legalization Bill Despite Concerns From Advocates - Marijuana Moment

SA: Editorial: Not right time to OK adult-use pot

HT: Hawaii Lawmakers Amend Automatic MJ Expungement Bill to Single-County Pilot Program

read … The Sunshine Blog: Will This Really Be The Year To Legalize Pot In Hawaii?

DHS Fails to Oversee Foster Kids’ Homeschooling

CB: … In Hawaii, parents and guardians can homeschool their children, regardless of their educational attainment or qualifications. To begin the homeschooling process, parents must submit a DOE form or write a letter notifying the department that the family intends to withdraw the child from school. 

Nearly 4,000 families submitted a form notifying DOE of their intent to homeschool their children so far this academic year.

Parents of foster children or children in custody of the Department of Human Services, though, are strongly discouraged from homeschooling. While there is no state law that prohibits foster children from being homeschooled, it is considered best practice for children in the child welfare system to be enrolled in a public or private school, said Daisy Hartsfield, social services division administrator for DHS.

“It is a benefit to have children in an educational setting where their well-being can be observed by members of the community,” Hartsfield said in a statement. 

When a child is in foster care or in custody of DHS, social workers have access to their school records and the department is made aware when a parent of one of these children makes a request to homeschool, according to Hartsfield. 

But when a child is no longer in DHS custody, the department has no say over keeping them in school. …

Sen. Kurt Fevella, a Republican from Ewa Beach, has submitted a resolution calling on the Department of Education to conduct wellness visits on all children who are taken out of school to be homeschooled.  …

read … Some Abusive Parents Homeschool Their Kids. Should Hawaii Do More To Screen Them?

Another Killing at Home of 2021 Baby Killer

HNN: … “They met because the victim was supposedly there to collect money for a ‘piece of jewelry’ that the suspect bought from him previously,” she added.

Investigators said the two men were acquaintances, but things became heated.

“The victim the the suspect got into a verbal argument which escalated when the suspect shot the victim once to his head,” Thoemmes said….

Neighbors and sources said the home where Rodrigues was arrested is the same one where Travis Rodrigues, 43, lived. He was indicted for murder in the death of his 18-month-old daughter, Kytana Ancog, who was last seen in January 2021 when she was dropped off at the residence.

Police said Travis Rodrigues confessed to beating and shaking his daughter to death. Her body was never found. It’s unclear whether and how Travis and Leroy Rodrigues are related….

read … Link uncovered between deadly Aiea shooting and missing child case from 2021

A COVID-era rule helped get homeless minors into housing

HNN: … The islands have the third highest rate of homelessness youth, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment.

HNN Investigates took a deeper look at the numbers, zeroing in on children under the age of 18. The most recent point-in-time count puts the number of homeless keiki on Oahu at 559. Some 88 children were living unsheltered.

Of those, 13 were classified as unaccompanied minors or children living on the street alone.

It’s a statistic that’s likely underreported.

Advocates say unaccompanied children are at greatest risk of being targeted by sex traffickers. But helping them off the streets is now more difficult because fewer emergency housing beds are available.


“We have a number of girls and young men who, when they’re unsheltered, they will do things in exchange for a tent,” said Carla Houser, executive director of Residential Youth Services and Empowerment.


She says thanks to a measure enacted during the COVID pandemic, RYSE helped a total of 36 unaccompanied minors find housing over three years. She added the majority of those kids had bounced around the foster care system before ending up on the street. It’s why she says it’s important to have housing options for children outside the child welfare or foster care systems….


read … A COVID-era rule helped get homeless minors into housing, but reviving it comes with new concerns

DLNR Sneaks Hydrogen Project into SB3195

IM: … Hawai`i state law allows the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to lease land to renewable energy companies that sell electricity to the local electric utility.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) proposed that BLNR also be permitted to lease land to renewable energy developers who produce energy that is not fed into the electric grid. The proposal was incorporated into SB 3195.

In legislative hearings held earlier this year, DLNR declined to say who was law was intended for. 

Yesterday they identified the company as Toyota Tsusho Corporation subsidiary Eurus Energy Holdings Corporation.

Eurus Energy`s 27.6-MW Waianae Solar Facility in Waianae went online in 2017. 

Eurus abandoned their Palehua Wind proposal in 2020. The  proposed 46.8-megawatt wind farm was to be located on culturally sensitive land mauka of the Kahe power plant and adjacent to Makakilo….

The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved setting aside 110-acres in Kalaeloa for a slaughterhouse in 2018. The slaughterhouse did not materialize. The Board then allowed Eurus to lease the land with the intent to sell power to Hawaiian Electric Company. That also did not materialize.

Eurus then proposed instead to build a solar farm to produce hydrogen.

DLNR noted in 2022, “The nearby natural gas infrastructure makes the site uniquely well-suited for hydrogen generation and sale to Hawai'i Gas should it be an off taker….

read … Hawai`i Hydrogen Project Advances | Ililani Media

Lahaina Fire News:

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