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April 14, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:26 PM :: 4986 Views

"How it feels to move to Las Vegas" Grassroot Hawaii Instagram posts attract 2.2 million views in March

A tax proposal I actually like

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City Closing Ulehawa Beach Park to Clean Tons of Homeless Tent City Garbage

DOH announces new RFPs for ground ambulance services for Kaua‘i and Maui Counties

E Maui Water Diversion: Sierra Club Loses at ICA

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Aloha ThinkTech

More than 100%??? -- Rail Project Director Flees State, “increases the risk of failure”

CB: … One of the three top leaders of the Honolulu rail project has abruptly resigned to move back to the mainland for family reasons, an unexpected loss that is raising major concerns among the members of the board of directors for the project.

Board members described former project director Nate Meddings as critical to the success of the $9.9 billion project, and his departure comes as the city is midway though a solicitation to award a contract to build the elevated rail line and stations through the city center.

That “City Center Guideway and Stations” contract or CCGS is expected to cost about $1.3 billion, and is a vastly complex undertaking. It is the last major construction contract for the project, and will finally extend the rail line into the city’s densely developed Kahihi and downtown neighborhoods.

Meddings oversaw rail construction and has been deeply involved in the planning and procurement process for the CCGS contract, which has already been repeatedly delayed….Board member Michele Chun Brunngraber said Meddings’ departure was a “big loss” because he brought both technical expertise and “esprit de corps” to the project team.

Colleen Hanabusa, chairwoman of the HART board, questioned Kahikina at length on Friday about whether Kahikina offered Meddings options such as taking leave or working remotely, and whether she referred Meddings to HART’s human resources staff to explore the possibilities.

Kahikina replied that she did not refer Meddings to her HR staff because “he made his decision already, so I wasn’t sure what else I could do to help him.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t think it was in the best interest of this project to talk to him about it, and maybe say, ‘Hey, calm down, we know it’s a difficult time, let’s talk about this?'” Hanabusa said.

Kahikina again said Meddings had already made his decision, and Hanabusa raised her voice loudly to argue. “That’s not my point, Lori. My point is, he’s somebody who’s critical to this project.”

Board member Anthony Aalto added that “I’m getting the impression that we all feel, we all acknowledge that Nate was a critical part of this project, that losing him increases the risk of failure for the project, and I guess the question that’s on the line in all of this is, did you do everything you possibly could to get him to stay? And I think that’s the concern, that you didn’t.”…

(QUESTION: Is it really possible to have a failure risk in excess of 100%?)

HNN: ‘Bleeding out’: HART board members express concern after key project leader quits

read … The Honolulu Rail Project Loses A Top Leader At A Critical Time

Eminent Domain at Center of Plan to build a new Lahaina

SA: … In August the commission will convene its last meeting and convey information to the Office of State Planning to produce a report for Maui County, Tokioka said. Much of the work of reshaping Lahaina, creating a more freely flowing street plan (CLUE: Eminent Domain) and rebuilding with fire resistance (CLUE: Eminent Domain) and sea-level rise (CLUE: Eminent Domain) in mind, will fall to the county….

Reinforcing the town’s cultural touchstones is every bit as important. State officials are supporting efforts to restore a sandbar island called Moku‘ula and the fishpond surrounding it. (CLUE: Eminent Domain)  The campaign to nurture the town’s iconic banyan tree that survived the flames is widely embraced. (That’s the one thing that will remain from the old Lahaina.)

read … Editorial: It’s time to build a new Lahaina | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Hawaii DoE: Decades of Failure

Shapiro:  … Are our “reinvented” schools better off than 20 years ago? It would be hard for an objective person to say “yes.”

Hawaii schools were already underperforming before COVID-19, were among the slowest to reopen during the pandemic despite relatively low infection rates here and have struggled to help students make up lost time, leaving a generation of kids incalculably handicapped.

While keiki lag behind, debate over public education focuses on the desires of adult “stakeholders” who feed off the system — teachers, principals, administrators and politicians.

Teachers have done well in recent years with good contract pay raises, step increases bestowed by the Legislature and differentials for hard-to-fill jobs. Legislators gave them $2,200 pandemic bonuses from federal funds intended to help students recover lost instruction. Still, they hog the spotlight in school discussions with gripes about their pay, bosses and working conditions.

Bottom of Form

Principals, who should be leading the education debate, keep their heads low and hide behind their union while collecting lofty salaries and avoiding meaningful performance reviews.

Superintendent Keith Hayashi’s reign has been defined in good part by attempts to get bigger salaries for him and his deputies.

Elected officials step into the void and disrupt any sign of progress by playing politics…. 

read … David Shapiro: Green’s stamp on schools had better deliver for kids

Mercado Kim Text Messages Stage Manage Board of Regents Meetings

CB: … Donna Mercado Kim continually sends requests for detailed responses about a range of issues, from anonymous complaints to spending concerns….

After a number of people raised concerns that Kim frequently texts regents during regent meetings suggesting what they should ask and what they should say, Civil Beat requested texts, emails and other correspondence between each member of the 11-member Board of Regents and their staff and Kim from June 1, 2023, through March 5 — about a month before Alapaki Nahale-a became chair and until he was rejected 13-12 by the Senate to continue serving on the board.

Civil Beat received 122 pages of emails sent between Kim and Board of Regents staff. But the regents’ office denied a request for text messages that were between personal cell phones — Kim’s or the individual regent’s — because they were not a record maintained by the board. The regents are not issued phones by the state and use their personal cells….

CB: 'Bad Blood': Hawaii Legislators Clash With UH Amid Leadership Shakeup

BACKGROUND: The Secret History of the Mercado Kim Crime Family

read … Emails Reveal A State Senator's Unrelenting Demands On The University Of Hawaii

HB2690: Give Water Activists Complete Control over all Development to drive housing costs even higher

SA: … House Bill 2690, Senate Draft 1, aims to implement decades-old recommendations to alleviate (establish) political interference in water policy (so denial of water can be used to block any construction anywhere). If passed, it would upgrade the state Commission on Water Resource Management’s (CWRM) administrative structure, better insulating it from politicking (any silly concerns about the cost of housing).  The bill would also allow the commission to impose meaningful fines (and block firefighting water), while further providing the emergency powers needed to effectively respond to crises like those in Lahaina and at Kapukaki (Red Hill) (and drive even more people out of Hawaii by blocking the construction of virtually anything anywhere).

REALITY: The purpose of this bill is to give water activists control over every development decision in Hawaii by giving them the authority to deny water.  Choked off supply will drive property prices higher and force out more residents.

read … Column: Upgrade isles’ water management laws

SB1035: No GE Tax on health care

SA: … One of the major issues is the unfair and burdensome general excise tax (GET) that private health care providers must pay — up to 4.5% of their gross income. The GET does not apply to hospitals, nor to physicians and other health care providers employed by hospitals and other large systems. And unlike other businesses, private practice health care providers are not legally permitted to pass on this additional tax to their Med-QUEST (Hawaii’s Medicaid), Medicare and TRICARE patients — not that most would.

Senate Bill 1035 would extend to private practice physicians, dentists and advanced practice registered nurses the same support already given to nonprofit hospitals and their healthcare professionals — exemption from the GET. Nonprofit hospitals and nonprofit health care providers struggle to make ends meet. Can you imagine the difficulty for private practice physicians and dentists to make payroll and pay rent, especially in rural areas where they lack economies of scale due to smaller populations?...

read … Column: Taxes hamstring Hawaii health care

Lahaina Fire News:

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