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Sunday, April 7, 2024
April 7, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:59 PM :: 1084 Views

Road to rebuilding Lahaina paved with obstructions

SB3196: Gun Control Bill Dead for Session

How to Nurse Hawaii Back to Good Health

Trask: UH Regents Shakeup May Profit OHA

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

The Passthrough Entity Problem

EPA Orders Hawaii County to Upgrade Sewage Treatment Systems

Hawaiian Electric Cracks Down on Useless Solar Production

Council Pay Hikes:  Waters copies Hanabusa

Shapiro: … With grave needs to make his mark such as a crushing cost of living forcing locals to move away, rampant homelessness and gridlocked traffic, Waters chose to spend his best political capital on a signature achievement of massive pay raises for himself and his members.

The city Salary Commission, the majority of which is appointed or confirmed by the Council, last year recommended 64% raises for Council members, which Waters lobbied for and allowed to become law without hearings or a vote despite furious objections by the public and some Council members.

The Salary Commission this year is proposing 3% more. If it’s enacted, since 2023 the chair’s pay will have risen from $76,968 to $126,712, while other members’ compensation will have jumped to $116,712 from $68,904.

Exceptions were members Augie Tulba, Andria Tupola and Radiant Cordero, who refused the 64% bump. Esther Kia‘aina, Calvin Say, Val Okimoto, Matt Weyer and Tyler Dos Santos-Tam joined Waters in filling their pockets.

These big salaries are for a job traditionally considered part time; Waters has reneged so far on a promise of legislation to bar Council members from rich outside employment they are now allowed.

In a feeble attempt at damage control, Waters says he’ll personally turn down this year’s 3% raise if it’s finalized. Depending on what the others do, we could theoretically end up with a nine-member Council with five different pay rates.

Waters is borrowing a tactic from former state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who helped engineer 33% raises for legislators in the middle of the Great Recession, when other state employees faced pay cuts and furloughs.

Amid public outrage, lawmakers grudgingly gave 5% back, leaving themselves 28% to the good. Hanabusa later ran an ad in her campaign for Congress boasting she cut legislative pay.

Waters is a hero to fellow politicians for taking the political hit and forcing through raises for his mates despite public furor. Eventually the precedent set by the outsized city increases will likely boost pay for all elected officials….

read … David Shapiro: Waters pleases the pols; we’ll see about the voters

Conservative Hawaii emerges, bucks pot legalization

Borreca: … Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical cannabis via the legislative process. Medical cannabis is legal here — patients and caregivers may purchase from a dispensary or cultivate up to seven plants at home.

An industry report says “Hawaii will remain the oldest medical-only cannabis market in the nation 24 years after a progressive Hawaii Legislature became the first to legalize medical cannabis via the legislative process in 2000.”

Residents of states where cannabis has been legalized use marijuana 24% more frequently than those living in states where it remains illegal, according to new research.

Study co-author John Hewitt said, “This makes it much more likely that legalization does, in itself, result in increased use.” …

Moore added: “The most interesting thing to me about the marijuana debate is that it demonstrates that Hawaii remains a relatively socially conservative state.”….

read … On Politics: Conservative Hawaii emerges, bucks pot legalization

Big power supply problems continue to plague Hawaii island

SA: … The company explained that it faces an “extremely tight” supply of power at peak use periods, especially when production from wind, solar and hydroelectric facilities is lower than normal. Those sources of variable, renewable energy can supply up to 15% of electricity needs on the island….

HEI: An update on Hawaii Island power generation – how you can help | Hawaiian Electric

read … Big power supply problems continue to plague Hawaii island

Lahaina Fire: Lawyers and Insurance Companies Point To One Termite-Damaged Utility Pole

CB: … Maui lawyer Jan Apo says he knows what caused the fire that killed at least 101 people and destroyed much of Lahaina.

It started, he says, with Pole 7A. The wooden pole, which was laden with telecommunications and electrical lines, should have been strong enough to withstand the winds buffeting the town, Apo says. …

But the pole was ridden with termite damage, Apo says, neglected by Hawaiian Electric Co., Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom, which used the pole. So with Pole 7A’s core weakened by termite tunnels, Apo says, the pole snapped during the predawn hours of Aug. 8. …

Apo, who has filed lawsuits for dozens of fire victims, shared the findings of his monthslong investigation last week during dramatic and at times personal testimony before the House Finance Committee. The purpose of the committee hearing was to consider a bill allowing HECO to issue special bonds to cover costs related to wildfires. But lawmakers were so intrigued by Apo’s story of Pole 7A that they called him back after his initial testimony to tell the story again….

Apo’s investigation isn’t the only one to find the disaster started with Pole 7A. Insurance industry investigators have reached the same conclusion.

“Utility Pole No. 7A located near Hookahua Street, situated on the west back side of the Lahaina Intermediate School, split in two, causing the collapse of the upper section of the pole and resulting in a chain reaction,” says a lawsuit filed by more than 140 insurance companies, including global giants like Swiss Re, Mitsui Sumimoto and Lloyd’s of London, as well as local firms like Island Insurance Co.

The purported chain reaction identified by insurance industry investigators is much the same as what Apo says his team found. …

read … The Most Detailed Account So Far Of The Lahaina Fire Points To One Termite-Damaged Utility Pole

Mercado Kim Gives Brennon Morioka Authority over UH Construction

CB: … House Bill 2499 was originally intended to give the UH president authority over construction and related professional services. The president had that power until 2013, when legislators unhappy with how contracts were being awarded gave the authority to the state’s chief procurement officer.

Both UH and the procurement office testified this year in favor of returning the power where they believe it rightly belongs. Kim, a chronic critic of UH administration, later changed the bill to instead give it to the UH chief financial officer, not the UH president. University officials were OK with that.

But on Thursday WAM quietly amended HB 2499 to give procurement to the dean of the UH College of Engineering.

“Any discussion?” WAM Chair Donovan Dela Cruz asked. There was none, and WAM — which includes Kim — voted unanimously in favor of the furtive switch.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The dean of the College of Engineering is Brennon Morioka, a guy who many think could be the next president of UH if Kim and her political cabal have their way. Covering their bases maybe?

The amendment will receive no public testimony, and HB 2499 appears headed to the black hole that is conference committee to hash out differences behind closed doors….

read … The Sunshine Blog: Hawaii Senate Still Messing With UH, Just Because It Can

Vacation rentals bill blasted: Commissioners get an earful over proposed TAR regulations

HTH: … vacation rental owners, who came out in droves Thursday to warn that passing the bill would cause them to lose their businesses and their homes, and calling the measure unconstitutional at least and a naked effort by hotel industry lobbyists to crush competition at worst.

“The county should not dictate to private property owners which parts of their home they may occupy or rent, or how many visitors they may allow,” said Christi Mallicoat, president of Hawaii Island Realtors. She added the measure seems to exist in lieu of actual enforcement of Bill 108, a 2018 measure that similarly established regulations for how short-term vacation rentals operate.

Many echoed Mallicoat’s criticisms of the bill, while others raised concerns about their own livelihoods.

Pahoa TAR owner Connie Goff said the money she receives from renting out a portion of her home for parts of the year is what allows her to own a home in Hawaii at all. The additional fees imposed by the bill, on top of the potential for enormous financial penalties for any violations, are “exorbitant,” she said, and will only price more and more people out of the state….

While Kimball said the daily fines of up to $10,000 outlined in the bill are specifically for hosting platforms such as AirBnb and not for TAR owners, the bill does allow for $10,000 fines to owners for a third violation, which led to confusion (wisdom) among testifiers….

Volcano resident Brian Daniels accused the measure of being a short-sighted lobbying effort by the hotel industry, but predicted that it will only reduce the number of visitors to the Big Island overall once it forces TARs to close and would-be tourists decide hotel rooms are too expensive….

GRIH: Proposed STR regulations a direct threat to broader Hawaii Island economy | Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

read … Vacation rentals bill blasted: Commissioners get an earful over proposed TAR regulations

Amid cost of living concerns, consumers in Hawaii find food prices differ widely by location

HNN: …  A new report says Hawaii residents pay 80% more than the national average to live here.

But after checking prices around Oahu, HNN found that where you shop on the island can make a big difference.

Food prices in Kalihi may be different from those at places like Aina Haina on Oahu’s east side.

Although the price of some items remained the same, our research showed that others had a difference of roughly 6 to 10%....

We found a similar story by looking at the Mcdonald’s app; a meal for two adults and two kids is $29.96 at the Dillingham location — that same order in Aina Hina is $33.16, and in Waianae, it’s $38.96….

read … Amid cost of living concerns, consumers in Hawaii find food prices differ widely by location

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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