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Wednesday, June 5, 2024
June 5, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:17 PM :: 1131 Views

279 Candidates File Papers for 2024 Elections

Court Upholds Governor's Emergency Proclamation on Affordable Housing

Hawaii First State to Provide Palliative Care Coverage

Hawaii Per-Capita GDP Grows as Young Families Flee Hawaii

Hawaii Cost of Living 80% Above US Average

Honolulu Unchallenged: Most County Incumbents are Already Re-elected

HNN: … Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm appears poised to be re-elected without opposition — along with Hawaii County Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen and Kauai Prosecutor Rebecca Like.

Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi does not face a major challenge. Businesswoman Choon James filed Tuesday afternoon and potential other candidates have little recognition.

None of the four Honolulu councilmembers up for reelection — Andria Tupola, Esther Kiaaina, Radiant Cordeiro and Augie Tulba, appeared to have opponents in the upcoming elections.

Councilmember Calvin Say is retiring from office, opening up a battle for his seat.

We asked Moore if he’s ever seen it this quiet.

His answer: “Never.”

“I think this is shocking and extraordinary,” he continued. “I mean, I don’t think we’ve ever had a case where the mayor doesn’t have a strong challenge.”

read … Few big-name challengers emerge in local races as other incumbents stand unopposed

Report: American Red Cross being phased out of Maui recovery efforts

KITV: … As wildfire recovery on Maui continues, the efforts are soon to go on without the American Red Cross.

The development comes in the wake of a controversial sequence of events leading to the departure of the American Red Cross's top administrator in Hawaii. Island News has learned about this development through a government contractor who has been involved with recovery operations on Maui over the past few months but was not authorized to speak on the topic. 

Just last week, Diane Peters-Nguyen was dismissed as CEO for American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region. Ahead of her exit, Peters-Nguyen was reportedly addressing allegations that Red Cross representatives had repeatedly tried to convince many wildfire survivors that the best way to rebuild their lives was to leave the island.

“They're encouraging [displaced wildfire victims] if they cannot find a place to either go to a different island or there's always the option of going to the mainland,” said Mya Carter, a Maui resident who became familiar with several cases victim cases during her time working in hospitality at the Royal Lahaina. “There are people that have generations of their families here and they are not willing to do that. But it's almost like they're kind of feeling forced to because now what's also happened because the government is willing to pay so much money, it’s driving the cost of rent across the island sky high.” Whether or not this pending development is related, the plan to phase out the American Red Cross does reflect that the organization’s presence is far less crucial at this stage in recovery.

A high-ranking state government official confirmed the report of the American Red Cross segueing out of Maui recovery efforts. Part of the rationale was that much of the current priority – helping those still in short-term housing find long-term solutions – could be handled by the Federal and State agencies. 

While there may be some interest in keeping them on into July, dismissal of the American Red Cross from the Maui recovery team may happen by the end of June….

read … Report: American Red Cross being phased out of Maui recovery efforts

Blangiardi calls for multi-year contract for rail CEO

SA: … Mayor Rick Blangiardi today told officials who oversee the city’s rail project to offer a multi-year contract to Lori Kahikina — its CEO and executive director — and fully cooperate with an investigation into any alleged “bullying and harassment” of Kahikina by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s board of directors.

Blangiardi’s two-page memo to the HART board and Kahikina asks them to:

>> “Cooperate with the Mayor and Managing Director in the investigation of alleged bullying and harassment of the CEO by the HART Board;

>> “Suspend all public discussion of personnel matters subject to investigation, except within the context of public and open HART Board meetings in which both the HART CEO and the HART Board may speak and conduct business; and

>> “Provide the HART CEO a multi-year contract extension in which both the HART CEO and the HART Board exercise their responsibilities, authority and powers and, for which, each side will be accountable for their performance and conduct.”

In the last quarter of 2023, after agreeing with Federal Transit Administration officials “on the need to prioritize project stability, I strongly recommended the HART Board extend the CEO’s contract,” Blangiardi wrote. “Since then, relations between the HART CEO and the HART Board have become increasingly tense.”

On Monday, the FTA told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that instability at HART’s leadership could threaten the next round of $250 million in federal funds expected by the rail project as it pushes toward its final destination into Kakaako.

Kahikina’s $275,000 contract is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31 and the first discussion of her future has been scheduled for Friday before the board’s Human Resources Committee….

read … Blangiardi calls for multi-year contract for rail CEO

Government rests its case against Miske

ILind: … The government rested its case today after five months of trial. The court will “go dark” for a week, and the trial will resume on Wednesday, June 12, when the defense will begin presenting its case.

The government has presented hundreds of witnesses, and concluded with days of somewhat mind-numbing testimony about corporate and individual tax liabilities.

Several apparently key witnesses were, surprisingly, not called to testify.

These include Lance Bermudez, whose reputation as a “shooter” brought him into the Miske organization, and who was described as being involved in several murder-for-hire plots backed by Miske; Jason Yokoyama, who was an employee and figurehead who publicly claimed ownership of the M Nightclub and other businesses Miske has been shown to shown to have owned and controlled; and Delia Fabro Miske, who had been married to Miske’s late son, Caleb, and who was intimately involved in his businesses….

CB: The Miske Trial: The Prosecution Rests - Honolulu Civil Beat

read … The government has rested its “case in chief” against accused racketeering boss Mike Miske

A 'Hard Market' Is Battering Condo Owners

CB: … When the Peninsula at Hawaii Kai condo community got news of its insurance bill for 2024, the condo owners were in for an unpleasant surprise. The association’s premium was going up almost tenfold, to $3.3 million from less than $400,000, said Kris Hanselman, an owner in the community.

That would mean an increase of thousands of dollars per year, or hundreds a month, for owners, depending on the square footage of their homes, Hanselman said. It’s an unexpected cost-of-living increase that could prove too much for some families, she said….

“The reinsurance market has had over $100 billion in losses for the fourth consecutive year in 2023,” Ito said….

The real problem for Hawaii condo owners, Ito said, is a relative lack of master hurricane insurance policies covering condominium structures and common areas. None of Hawaii’s hurricane carriers has pulled out, but he said at least one won’t provide 100% coverage against hurricane losses. This, he said, has left local agents with the daunting task of cobbling coverage from the secondary insurance market, where premiums can vary wildly.

“This is what’s really caused havoc in the condominium AOAO situation,” he said.

It’s also what led to the sharp increase in premiums at the Peninsula, says Kirk Christman, an insurance broker with ACW Group in Honolulu who provides insurance for the property. Christman said he needed to pull together a group of 60 different insurers including multiple Lloyd’s of London syndicates to get coverage for the Peninsula….

SA: State insurance chief doesn’t see carrier exit | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

read … A 'Hard Market' Is Battering Condo Owners

Axe HECO’s unfair ‘Shift and Save’ plan

SA: … Hawaiian Electric (HECO) recently implemented a Shift and Save (S&S) pilot program with the pitch that you can save on your electric bill. Or is it “shift or pay more”?

All ratepayers should pay attention to this scheme since, according to HECO, “S&S Is expected to be introduced to all customers in 2025.” Some 15,000 pilot program customers hold the fate of all other customers.

S&S sets three new rates. For simplicity, we’ll compare the new Oahu rates versus a recent 40 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) rate. The evening rate (5 to 9 p.m.) increases by 30% to 52 cents/kWh. The overnight rate (9 p.m. to 9 a.m.) drops 13% to 35 cents/kWh. The daytime rate (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) drops by 58% to 17 cents/kWh….

Biggest loser: net energy metering (NEM) customers without a battery. …

Next-biggest loser: day-shift working families, with or without solar. To break even, they must shift their energy usage out of the punishing evening rate or else. But do the math: To break even they would have to shift 70% of their normal evening usage to the overnight rate, or 35% to daytime — such as on a weekend day. How can they possibly do either when evenings are when they turn the lights on, cook dinner, watch TV and otherwise need electricity? …

read … Axe HECO’s unfair ‘Shift and Save’ plan

Oil industry asks Supreme Court to block climate change lawsuits from Hawaii, other states

HTH: … Oil and gas companies are asking the Supreme Court to block dozens of high-powered lawsuits from Hawaii to Massachusetts seeking to hold the industry liable for billions of dollars in costs related to climate change.

They are urging the justices to intervene now and rule that climate change is a global phenomenon and a matter for federal law, not one suited to state-by-state claims….

read … Oil industry asks Supreme Court to block climate change lawsuits from Hawaii, other states

Honolulu Council is poised to adopt $4 billion-plus budget

SA: … The Honolulu City Council today is expected to review for adoption the city’s proposed $3.63 billion executive operating budget for the 2025 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

If passed, the budget — also known as Bill 12 — will fund city salaries and city employee benefits, including nondiscretionary costs like health care, retirement and other post-employment benefits, the city says.

The spending plan also will pay for the city’s public safety and public health agencies — Police, Fire and Emergency Services departments — which represent roughly 17% of the pro­posed operating budget, or $626.7 million, the city says.

Likewise, the Council will consider adopting the city’s $919 million capital improvement program to fund park improvements and upgrade public buildings including Honolulu Police Department facilities, the city says. The total cost of the overall budget, which is expected to be finalized today by the Council, will be over $4 billion.

Under Bill 13, roughly $445 million would go toward wastewater and global consent decree projects — meant to remedy violations of the Clean Water Act, as part of a 2010 settlement reached between the city and federal governments — which amount “to nearly half of all proposed 2025 fiscal year” CIP projects, according to the city….

read … Honolulu Council is poised to adopt $4 billion-plus budget

Man awarded $12.5M from city ordered held without bail in federal gun, drug case

SA: … The 38-year-old man who settled with the city for $12.5 million Opens in a new tab following injuries he suffered in a 2021 police pursuit was ordered held without bail today on federal charges that he used a ghost gun while selling methamphetamine in Waianae.

Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati was arrested twice in May on suspicion of drug and gun charges. He is facing state and federal charges. The city can’t get the money back from Perkins-Sinapati.

He was charged May 24 by federal criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to federal court records….

(SUMMARY: State gave him probation over and over again with a $12.5M topper.  Feds lock him up on first try.  This is why mafia slogan is ‘Defend Hawaii.’)

read … Man awarded $12.5M from city ordered held without bail in federal gun, drug case

Cashless bail revoked, Armed Standoff Suspect finally in Jail

HTH: … According to court documents filed by police, at about 8:20 a.m. May 12, Adams broke into an Alaoli Drive home where a 37-year-old woman was caretaker. The woman reportedly heard a gunshot, then saw an unfamiliar man police say was Adams banging on the front door and demanding entrance to the house.

The woman allegedly told the interloper — who she told police was armed with an AR-15-type rifle with a scope — she had called police and for him to leave. She was later able to escape the house, but not before the man had shattered glass and entered the house without permission.

The woman said the man yelled obscenities and threatened to kill anyone present, according to police.

When officers arrived, they saw a shirtless man at the top of the driveway with a black semi-automatic pistol. Police say the man ran inside when he saw them and barricaded himself in the house.

The department’s SWAT team and crisis negotiators were called to the scene, and Adams came out after several hours and surrendered without further incident, police said.

Adams made his initial appearance May 14 in Kona District Court. On that date, Judge Kimberly Tsuchiya ordered a mental examination for Adams and freed him on supervised release — a form of cashless bail — over the objection of Deputy Prosecutor Robert Gebbia….

read … Armed standoff suspect indicted - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

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