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Friday, March 15, 2024
March 15, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:31 PM :: 1355 Views

State, FEMA Agree on Plan to Push Lahaina Survivors out of Hotels

SB3381 Lahaina Landgrab Bill: AKAKU Hosts Community Forum

“Smaller homes on smaller lots”

Hawaii Homeland Security Announces Plan for 'Targeted Violence Prevention'

Blangiardi Delivers State of the City Address

UPDATED VOTE TOTALS: Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus

SB2922: Electric Bills going up $5B for Maui Wildfire Lawsuits

KITV: … A bill that's moving through the Legislature would raise your electric bill. It would help Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) raise capital to pay for wildfire-related expenses, including all those lawsuits.

The Securitization Bill passed out of two committees on Thursday. Many people and agencies want the Utility to develop wildfire protection plans, which will cost a lot. Several bills calling for securitization address this, including Senate Bill 2922, which the Energy and Environmental Protection committee and Water and Land committee both passed….

"They would be trying to shore up their financial situation by the securitization measure which would allow them to securitize a bond by putting a fee on electric bills," she summarized.

The bill says with credit ratings at a noninvestment-grade status, the utility would have to pay much higher interest rates to borrow money. That's why Hawaiian Electric says securitization would cost customers less….

(REALITY: Without the State co-signing its loan, HEI couldn’t get one.  It would be forced into bankruptcy and the debts would be wiped out in bankruptcy court.  No debts = no rate hikes.   But, coming out of bankruptcy, the new HEI owners would be outside Hawaii’s old-boy power structure.  That’s what the Legislature is trying to prevent--and you’re going to have to pay $5B for it.)

KITV: Hawaiian Electric faces profit loss amid Maui wildfires scrutiny

read … Electricity bills may go up if Securitization bill passes

SB3327: No hearing for water commission bill to give Activists Total Control over water resource management

KITV: … Senate Bill 3327 would essentially give the state commission on Water Resource Management more freedom, and while it gained widespread support, lawmakers have yet to schedule a hearing for the measure to move forward this legislative session.

Water rights advocates call the changes proposed in SD 3327 "long overdue." …

REMEMBER WHO THEY ARE:

read ... Water commission bill to 'filter out politics' from resource management

HB2743: Legislature Finds a Way to Tax Your Feces

CB: … Cesspool owners could be charged a monthly rate equivalent to sewage rates starting in 2025, per a state bill that recently passed the halfway milestone in the Legislature.

This would impact the state’s approximately 83,000 properties with cesspools….

House Bill 2743 is intended to help answer a question plaguing residents since 2017, when lawmakers passed a bill requiring all cesspools be converted to other forms of wastewater treatment by 2050. 

The bill essentially allows counties to charge what’s called a “cesspool pollution fee.” Those fees can then be deposited into a new fund for mitigating the effects of cesspools. Counties would also be required to publish comprehensive plans of where they intend to build new sewer lines. 

Three senate committees discussed the bill on Wednesday, and each decided to defer a vote until next week. In the meantime they’ll consider proposed amendments like a pollution fee waiver for low-income cesspool owners….

read … Still Have A Cesspool? Counties Could Start Charging You Pollution Fees In 2025 - Honolulu Civil Beat

Ing is given more time to come up with lame excuses in latest campaign spending case

SA: … Former state House Rep. Kaniela Ing has until April 24 to prove that campaign spending documents he filed are accurate, allowing him to potentially avoid an additional $18,250 in fines — on top of the $22,000 in fines he’s already been assessed for the same documents.

The state Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday gave Ing a six-week extension to prove that 24 campaign spending allegations over documents that he filed are accurate.

For the second month in a row, Ing appeared without legal counsel.

At its February meeting, commissioners deferred a vote on whether to again fine Ing so he could be represented to respond to the alleged violations. At the time, Ing told the commission that his attorney was traveling.

Ing on Wednesday told the commission that he had made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to retain legal counsel after his attorney, William Harrison, was unavailable…

In February 2023 the city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney filed a criminal complaint against Ing alleging that he “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly failed to timely file a supplemental report with the Campaign Spending Commission” by a July 31 deadline for the period covering the first six months of 2022, thereby committing the offense of “failure to timely file (a) supplemental report with the Campaign Spending Commission.”

Ing pleaded no contest and received a “deferred acceptance of no contest.” He faced the possibility of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The misdemeanor count for his original campaign spending violations included using campaign funds to cover $2,125 in rent for residences on Oahu and Maui and $219 to make a payment on his domestic partner’s credit card account. Ing also deposited a campaign check worth $2,000 into his personal checking account but failed to document it on his campaign spending reports.

When he appeared remotely for February’s Campaign Spending Commission hearing, Ing — the father of 4- and 7-year-old children — said he did not have the money to pay another $18,250 after spending $350 a month to pay off his original fines….

Ing said in February that his reputation has been damaged, he’s had trouble finding work and he has been “harassed on the street.”…

Kaniela Ing: The Grift That Just Keeps on Grifting

read … Ing is given more time in campaign spending case | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Mauna Kea to be Exempt from Sunshine Law?

CB: … At least three bills introduced at the Legislature this year sought to substantially change the Sunshine Law to allow public boards to do more business in secret, particularly when it comes to hiring people. Only one is still alive, midway through session, and that one is specific to the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority….

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has concerns about particular provisions of the Sunshine Law and drafted some changes she hoped lawmakers would consider this year. The revisions, introduced by Senate President Ron Kouchi as Senate Bill 3203, didn’t even get a hearing.

“The amendments we included in that bill really go to the heart of the areas of Sunshine that we think makes it difficult for a board or commission to do the business of the state,” Lopez said in a recent interview. “We tried to be kind of surgical instead of doing some sort of broad sweeping thing. We tried to identify those points where we thought we could find a better balance.”

Lopez’s proposal arose out of a Senate Higher Education Committee briefing in January when committee chair Sen. Donna Mercado Kim invited members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to air their concerns about the law. The discussion was important in light of the board’s efforts to hire a new university president this year, Kim said….

The Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority is pushing lawmakers this year to exempt it from some of the provisions of the Sunshine Law, especially when it comes to meeting and making decisions behind closed doors.

Last year, the Legislature turned over control of the mountain and the controversy swirling around telescopes and cultural issues to the newly created authority. That board has five years to put a plan in place to balance the scientific use of the mountain with protecting Native Hawaiian sacred interests. Some think the board is a thinly disguised effort to finally build the Thirty Meter Telescope and they are watching it closely.

In February, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on House Bill 2692, which would give the authority freedom from many requirements of the Sunshine Law. Testimony was overwhelmingly against the exemptions, with opponents arguing that this first five years is a critical time for the public to be able to be involved with how the new board sets up rules that will govern the mountain far into the future.

The committee passed the bill 7-3 anyway with little discussion by members. Earlier this month it passed the full House by a wide margin and is now awaiting hearings in the Senate….

read … Why Hawaii's Strong Sunshine Law Is Burning Some Public Officials - Honolulu Civil Beat

House Panel Spikes Bill To Publicly Fund Hawaii Elections

CB: … A bill supporters believed could bring transformational change to Hawaii elections was unanimously rejected Thursday by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 2381 would have set up a comprehensive system of public financing for all candidates seeking election to state and county public offices beginning with the 2028 general election year.

But the bill did not include the $30 million estimated to be needed to fund the program, nor $200,000 to add staff to the state Campaign Spending Commission, which would be responsible for implementing the system.

Chair David Tarnas said SB 2381 was “fatally flawed” for those reasons but others as well. He heeded testimony from Kristin Izumi-Nitao, the spending commission’s executive director, that her agency would find it very challenging to get the system up and running in two years….

read … House Panel Spikes Bill To Publicly Fund Hawaii Elections

HB1980: Increase Cockfighting Penalties

KHON: … Lowenthal said with the vague language, it could allow those who watch cockfights to become felons.

State Rep. David Tarnas, who helped introduce the bill, says there is a direct link between cockfighting and other illegal activities, citing the Waianae cockfight in 2023 that ended in a shooting that left two dead.

“At a cockfight, at a derby, you have people showing up, they've got guns, there's sale of illegal contraband, and it’s a place where you have violence,” said Tarnas….

The bill is being amended and will soon be moving to the Senate for a vote….

read … Hawaii residents upset over bill that would increase the penalty for cockfighting

Selling Miske’s Illegal Fireworks 

ILind: … Cabael said Miske had traveled to China with a small group in 2008, carrying a large sum of money in order to make a deal to purchase fireworks. Later, a 53-foot shipping container filled with boxes of a variety of professional grade fireworks was delivered to a storage bunker located in part of the former Navy ammunition depot in Waikele, near Waipio, where Cabael was told to transfer the boxes into an old war-time storage bunker.

That same year, one of Miske’s cousins, Richard C. MacGuyer, registered a new company, Island Weddings And Special Events LLC, doing business as Grand Finale Fireworks Productions, state business registration records show.

The relationship between MacGuyer and his cousin Mike went way back. In August 1993, Miske and MacGuyer were charged with criminal property damage, attempted theft, and possession of burglary tools. The case was later dismissed when prosecutors failed to meet “speedy trial” deadline. MacGuyer was later employed at Kamaaina Termite, and was allegedly involved with Miske and other employees in sports gambling, court records show.

Cabael said that although a few legitimate shows were done, the company was primarily a front for illegal street sales of fireworks. Cabael said Miske put him in touch with purchasers, and Cabael then delivered fireworks to them using rented trucks.

Cabael testified they handled two container loads during the first year, and three or four the second year.

He said Miske instructed him and other workers to use burner phones to avoid law enforcement. They would rent trucks in Mapunapuna, drive to the storage bunkers, load up, and make the deliveries, all the while knowing it was illegal.

Cabael said they would put paper “dealer plates” over the license plates of the trucks, as instructed by Miske. Another of Miske’s companies, Hawaii Partners, was a licensed used vehicle dealer.

Cabael said he and others used fake identification cards to access the secured storage area. His fake ID used the name James Kealoha, with a false social security number.

Cabael said he made many deliveries valued at more than $10,000. The largest delivery was a full truckload that the customer paid for with over $100,000 in cash, wrapped in plastic and vacuum sealed, with the bundles then stacked and wrapped again in plastic.

The cash was turned over to Miske, Cabael said. Based on his experience, Cabael estimated the total at close to $2 million. Cabael said he had been paid $25,000 in cash during the first “season” of fireworks sales (a season ran from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve), but wasn’t paid for the second season, when things fell apart….

ILind: A man providing “muscle” for Miske was part of an earlier assault in a Waikiki club

read … Doing Miske’s “dirty work”

Fire alarm systems out of commission at 15 Hawaii schools

SA: … A new inventory of fire alarms at all 258 of Hawaii’s regular public schools plus six public charter schools has found 15 schools’ fire alarm systems to be inoperable, and replacements for most will take three to 10 months, according to state Department of Education officials.

Ten additional schools are being “actively worked on” because while their fire alarms still work, they’ve been flagged by school principals or state legislators as needing alarm replacements soon, DOE Deputy Superintendent Curt Otaguro said. A rough cost estimate for a new system is $2 million per school, he said.

“Ninety-four percent of the schools’ (fire alarm systems) are operational as we speak, but the 15 (schools) that are not — as we all know, it’s unacceptable at 5.7%,” Otaguro said as he presented the report to a March 7 meeting of the Finance and Infrastructure Committee of the state Board of Education….

read … Fire alarm systems out of commission at 15 Hawaii schools

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