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Friday, March 22, 2024
March 22, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:51 PM :: 1035 Views

HECO's Secret Wildfire Plan: Congress Demands Answers

Disgraced Mililani Athletic Director Fined $274,500 by Ethics Commission

Mortgage Delinquencies Spike After Lahaina Fires

States Adding the Most Mortgage Debt -- Hawaii Ranks 3rd

Hawaii -- Most Affordable State For Healthcare

Lawmakers consider taking your tax dollars to shield HECO, KSBE from future fire-related suits

HNN: … House Bill 2700 would establish a state wildfire fund that would hold enough money to immediately pay for property damages from another fire — if it’s big enough to damage 500 or more buildings….

At a recent hearing, HECO said there should be $1 billion in the fund — one third from HECO, one third from the state, and the rest from other entities.

HECO said the fund would give investors more confidence in the future of the company.

“We must address the financial uncertainties of wildfire risk and regain access to capital markets,” said Jason Benn, HECO senior vice president and chief information officer.

But there are concerns that the fund would be protecting those who cause fires from lawsuits — with money provided by taxpayers and utility customers….

The senate Consumer Protection Committee approved the bill Thursday without defining the size of the fund or exactly where the money would come from….

CB: A Number Of Investigations Have Been Launched Into The Maui Fires. Here's Where They're At

read … Lawmakers consider creation of fund to shield HECO, others from future fire-related suits

PUC Opens Secret Docket on Maui Wildfires--HECO Rejects Plan to depower Lines

IM: … Life of the Land sought information of the Lahaina and Upcountry Maui fires and the recent rolling blackouts. Unable to find the information through normal channels, Life of the Land filed a HRS 92F (Uniform Information Practices Act) with the Public Utilities Commission.

The Commission responded, noting that they had opened a non-docket case number 2024-01872 on January 22, 2024. Non-dockets are proceedings where intervention is not permitted.

The Commission titled this non-docket with the obscure name “Non-Docketed IR_PUC-HECO-IR-1 to -16” and classified the filings as a Compliance Investigation.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) response was filed on February 20, 2024. The public version of the response contained about 3,000 redactions (blacked out sections)….

“In the near term, it will not be feasible to implement Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) in as targeted of a way as is currently done by California electric utilities after years of developing their programs and making necessary changes to their systems.”

“On O‘ahu, the leeward side is a high wildfire risk area where a large amount of the island’s generation is located. Bulk power is delivered through transmission lines from these generation resources into central O‘ahu, and then through the rest of the island. De‐energizing these transmission lines would greatly impede proper generation dispatch and grid flexibility, which could easily lead to broader impacts to areas that are not high wildfire risk areas, and even island‐ wide outages.”

"Maui and Hawai‘i Island have transmission lines that also serve customer load. De‐energizing transmission lines in high wildfire risk areas would lead to extended interruptions for many customers, even if not in wildfire risk areas. There are also not many transmission options on these islands, so grid flexibility would be greatly reduced with the prospect of large‐scale outages occurring.”…

KITV: Senate Joint Committee hearing backs Resolution 182 at Hawaii State Capitol

read … Major Details Revealed re Maui Wildfires & HECO Mitigation Measures

Carpenter Media completes purchase of Star-Advertiser parent

SA: … CMG is a leading community media company with operations in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

Todd Carpenter of Natchez, Miss., is principal and chairman. Tim Prince of Mountain Brook, Ala., is CEO. CMG has offices in Natchez and Tuscaloosa, Ala., with key people working from various operations throughout the group.

BPM owns more than 150 newspapers and media operations in Western Canada, Washington and Hawaii, including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the sixth- largest U.S. daily newspaper by print circulation. Other assets include websites, lifestyle and tourism magazines, Amazon last-mile delivery franchises and the national tourism website BPM serves about 4.5 million print readers and 13 million digital readers daily….

Several members of the Black Press management team will assume new key roles in the organization. Longtime Oahu Publications Inc. President and Publisher Dennis Francis has been named senior vice president for CMG and will also continue his leadership of OPI …

KITV: Honolulu Star-Advertiser optimistic about newspaper's new ownership

BACKGROUND: Star-Advertiser to be Sold to Carpenter Media Friday -- after paying $150K ransom

read … Carpenter Media completes purchase of Star-Advertiser parent

Nago Reappointed, Legislature prepares to replace State Auditor 

CB: … In a 5-4 vote, the Hawaii Elections Commission on Tuesday reappointed the chief elections officer to another four-year term. But the public meeting over Zoom was lengthy and contentious, and it’s clear that Scott Nago has many detractors.

You can watch the video recording yourself, but The Sunshine Blog thinks you might have a better use for that particular 3 hours and 30 minutes. In short, many testifiers blame Nago for a litany of things including things that are not really his fault — low voter turnout (it’s called apathy and we’ve had it for years) and the state’s mail-in balloting system (that was the Legislature’s idea).

But Nago has his supporters, too, including from the League of Women Voters and Maui County officials

A joint resolution to tweak the process for filling three high-ranking jobs in state government moved quietly forward Wednesday with no testimony and no discussion before the House Legislative Management Committee.

The positions include state auditor, state ombudsman and Legislative Reference Bureau director….

read … The Sunshine Blog: Hawaii Elections Chief Is Hanging On To His Job, Barely

NIMBYS Oppose Emergency Housing for Lahaina Survivors

HNN: …Some Kahului residents fear a future housing site for fire survivors will make their drainage problems worse.

…“The runoff is a concern for me,” she said….

read … Effort to build homes for fire survivors near Maui Lani spurs concerns about runoff, drainage

Can Chemophobia Campaign Scare Lahaina Property Owners Away?

HNN: … The American Lung Association says it received four calls last week alone from people worried about the dust, three of whom were experiencing symptoms like chronic cough….

(That’s all it takes!)

A video shot March 7 shows wind carrying a plume of dust kicked up by crews working within the Lahaina burn zone….

Pedro Haro, head of the American Lung Association of Hawaii, calls the situation troubling.

“We’ve definitely voiced concerns to the Department of Health for a while now,” said Haro. “For the most part, the Department of Health hasn’t reached out to us.”

Haro says one point in particular still isn’t clear:

“The monitors that are in place in Lahaina, are they designed to be able to monitor the types of heavy compounds, toxic chemicals that were found in the soil?”

HNN Investigates took Haro’s question to the state. The answer, in short, was yes.

According to the Department of Health, there are 55 real-time air quality monitors in Lahaina and Olowalu capable of detecting contaminants such as arsenic and lead. In addition to those monitors, air samples are collected via the use of samplers at multiple sites, including Lahaina Intermediate School, Leialii Hawaiian Homelands, Wastewater Pump Station #4, and the Lahaina Boys and Girls Club….

(IDEA:  Follow the science.)

Officials say they’re analyzed for a wide variety of toxic substances such as anitmony, arsenic, lead, cobalt and copper — all of which were found in Lahaina ash samples late last year.

Department of Health officials said results from both the samplers and air monitors “consistently show that debris removal activities have not significantly impacted ambient air quality” — or the quality of outdoor air. The DOH continued, in a statement: “Results from all of the monitoring consistently show no significant impact to air quality. These monitoring programs include quality assurance programs to maintain quality both in the field and the laboratory.”

read … Reports of respiratory issues near Lahaina burn zone put new spotlight on air quality monitoring

Testimony: Five nightclubs attacked with termite fumigation chemical

ILind: … A longtime employee and friend of former Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control owner, Michael J. Miske Jr., testified last week that he had released a toxic chemical in two nightclubs that competed with Miske’s M Nightclub for the business of late night revelers.

The latest disclosure came from Alfredo Cabael, who admitted doing “dirty work” for Miske as well as working for Kamaaina Termite. He testified he had released chloropicrin, a chemical used in Miske’s termite fumigation business, in the Pearl nightclub, apparently referring to the Pearl Ultralounge in Ala Moana Center, not far from Miske’s M Nightclub. Then, several weeks later, he said he had carried out a similar attack on SoHo, a club in Honolulu’s Chinatown….

The disclosure brings the total number of chemical attacks allegedly directed by Miske and carried out by employees or associates to five.

Two chemical attacks on successive nights in March 2017 are the basis for three of the 19 criminal charges against Miske, who is currently on trial in Honolulu’s Federal District Court.

A third attack targeted the Addiction nightclub in The Modern Hotel on December 20, 2015. It was described in testimony last month by the club’s director of security, and a server who was working when the chemical was released….

read … Testimony: Additional nightclubs attacked with termite fumigation chemical

The Hawaii DOE Has Defaulted On Rent Owed To Another State Agency

CB: … The DOE has leased the 10-acre Kekaha property since March last year, taking over a lease from Beck’s Hybrid Seeds. The department told ADC it intended to build facilities for education and food production.

But the DOE has yet to pay ADC anything toward the $9,294 it has accrued in fees and rent over the past 12 months. A violation notice was sent to DOE on Feb. 15 but the DOE missed its payment deadline Saturday….

The property had been in DOE’s sights since at least 2021. That year, former Assistant Superintendent Randall Tanaka said the Kekaha site was being considered as a site for a centralized “mega kitchen.”

According to meeting minutes from March 2023, Tanaka told the ADC board that the Kekaha location provided a “tremendous opportunity for what they want to accomplish or where they hope to take the renaissance of ag in the State of Hawaii.”

The DOE kitchen was expected to be similar to a $35 million facility that falls under the Whitmore Project in Wahiawa, a project championed by Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz.

Tanaka was fired in December amid a controversy over plans to surrender more than $450 million in funding for construction projects. He now works for WAM Deputy Chair Sharon Moriwaki….

“I just want to apologize. I just came on board,” Jadine Urasaki of the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services said.

Urasaki asked for a 60-day extension so she could find her predecessor’s records, get a grasp of the situation and help the DOE settle the balance….

read … The Hawaii DOE Has Defaulted On Rent Owed To Another State Agency

Designer is commissioned to convert state Capitol pools to waterless feature

SA: … The long-troublesome reflecting pools at the state Capitol will be permanently dried up and converted to an artistic landscape with elements resembling water from around Hawaii designed by Native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos.

Board members of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts on Wednesday selected Enos from among 122 applicants seeking to design a waterless replacement for the two pools that maintains symbolism of the pools resembling the ocean around Hawaii….

read … Designer is commissioned to convert state Capitol pools to waterless feature

Racetrack for Kalaeloa?

HNN: … The city has been working for years on acquiring 400 acres of land from the navy at Kalaeloa, the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station.

“And now we’re moving very quickly to take title to the property,” city Managing Director Mike Formby told the gathering. “Their time frame is April.”

Formby added, “Under the utilization plan filed by the Caldwell Administration, there was no race track. So we’ll go back and we’ll amend the utilization plan. We’ll put a racetrack in and then we’ll move forward.”

Longtime racetrack supporter Li Cobian explained that the navy is transferring the title to the city under a federal program for more outdoor recreational facilities.

“They’re going to transfer the property, April they’re looking at. And I say we should be breaking ground by the first of next year,” Cobian said….

read … Racetrack, landfill top the concerns as new round of Honolulu mayor's town hall sessions begins

Suspect Released ‘Pending Investigation’, Mocks System on Video

WHT: … A video posted on social media appears to be a 30-year-old Pahoa man who was arrested Thursday by police in an animal cruelty case.

The man was released from custody later that day, and immediately afterward appears to be gloating over being freed without charges.

“Mutts. All you mutts out there, I’m a free man, (expletive),” he says on the video as he shows the parking lot of the Hilo Police Station. The video was posted to the Facebook page Big Island Thieves.

The video then cuts to the face of a man who appears to be Bronson Valencia-Yasue, who was arrested by police Thursday on suspicion of second-degree animal cruelty, then released pending further investigation.

“So like four or five guys all come for scrap with me already,” the man said, then, after a few expletives added, “I’m about that life. Like I said, if you see me, cuz, bring that (expletive) heat, bitch.

“Right out of the jail, bro. No charges.”

Police say they were notified of another video circulating on social media in which a man complains about “dumb dogs,” then brutalizes a small white terrier dog with brown or grey markings, kicking it repeatedly with his heel.

The video, which was obtained from the Instagram account Hawaiinewsreports, appears to have been filmed by Valencia-Yasue and posted to his own Instagram story.

After kicking the dog, the man in the video walks away and says, “Cracks, cuz. Anybody get one problem with that, let me know. I’ll stomp your (expletive) head, too.”  …

read … Pahoa man arrested, released after viral video of dog abuse

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda: 





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