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June 22, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:47 PM :: 1328 Views

Green: 'Intent to Veto' 17 Bills

VIDEO: Condo Insurance Town Hall Meeting

Biden Approves Kauai Disaster Declaration

Blangiardi signs City’s FY25 budget bills into law

Personal fortunes of HECO board members at risk in some wildfire lawsuits

HNN: … lawsuits being brought by HEI shareholders say they should personally pay millions in damages to the company.

Hawaiian Electric companies face hundreds of lawsuits over the Maui fires, demanding potentially billions in damages. But the shareholder lawsuits are different because they go after HECO executives and even board members, demanding they pay millions in damages.

San Diego attorney Darren Robbins is leading two of the cases and says board membership on a large public utility is not just an honorary position. “If you’re going to be elevated and accept a prestigious position like this, there are responsibilities that go with it,” he said.

… The directors of Hawaiian Electric Industries are a who’s who of local business and community leaders like retired Adm. Thomas Fargo, former state DLNR Director and insurance executive Tim Johns and Micah Kane, CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation. If successful, the shareholder lawsuits would force the company leaders to pay damages to HECO, essentially contributing personally to the money that might be paid to fire victims through the victim lawsuits….

read … Personal fortunes of HECO board members at risk in wildfire lawsuits

HART board meeting delayed – Kahikina pushes back against Hanabusa as Bid Deadline Looms

SA: … The delay comes as issues persist over HART’s embattled Executive Director and CEO Kahikina and her $275,000 a year contract, which is set to expire Dec. 31.

Led by Chair Colleen Hanabusa, the HART board of director’s review of Kahi­kina’s contract has not occurred, despite the item being on the agenda multiple times of past board meetings this year.

The delay also comes as the Federal Transit Administration, which in 2023 released $125 million in federal funds to HART for the first time since 2017, raised concerns over the uncertainty of the rail agency’s leadership.

(CLUE:  The bids for the Civic Center section of rail are about to come in.  They will be very high.  Insiders are already blaming each other.)

In early June, FTA told the Star-Advertiser that leadership uncertainty at HART could jeopardize another $250 million in federal money.

And allegations of Hana­busa’s “bullying and harassment” of Kahikina eventually prompted Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who appointed Kahikina to HART’s leadership post in 2021, to issue a memo in early June, urging the board to offer his appointee a multiyear contract.

The mayor also requested HART fully cooperate with an investigation into any alleged harassment of Kahi­kina by board members.

Board member and Kahikina-supporter Natalie Iwasa, speaking in her individual capacity, said delaying Friday’s meeting was warranted, “as that appeared to be the best option for full transparency.”

“All meeting materials and testimonies from today are planned to be discussed next Friday,” she told the Star-Advertiser via email.

Next week’s meeting may include discussion of Kahi­kina’s contract, though that item could possibly be a closed-door executive session….

On Tuesday, Kahikina submitted a letter to the HART board in response to the comments that the Human Resources Committee received. …

“If this testimony is to be a determining factor in the decision about my employment, I should have the opportunity to understand it and to respond to it,” she wrote.

And as far as creating “a toxic work environment that has resulted in low morale and affecting the health of some employees,” her letter states, “this comment is very subjective and is too vague to fairly address.”

“I also think it is unfair for a few past or present employees to take their personal feelings and extend those feelings to other employees. I have never been told that the health of employees has been affected in this way,” her letter states. “Other current employees obviously disagree as several employees have submitted unsolicited, positive written and oral testimony to the board.” ….

PDF: 20240618-Kahikina responses-to-summary-of-feedback.pdf (documentcloud.org)

CB:  Rail CEO Kahikina Counters Criticism Made In Secret Testimony To The Rail Authority Board

read … HART board meeting delayed amid leadership tension | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Some Hawaii businesses struggle to keep up with minimum wage raises

KITV: … In retail news, economists say consumer spending is easing off, owing to slower job and wage gains, elevated borrowing rates and tight lending standards.

Here in Hawaii, some store owners worry the increases in the minimum wage just add to their ability to keep their doors open.

The state's minimum wage will increase from $14 per hour to $16 per hour on Jan. 1, 2026, and to $18 per hour on Jan. 1, 2028. These are incremental step-ups required under a 2022 law, when the minimum wage was $12 per hour….

"I foresee even more small businesses will be closing," Hunter pronounced.

"Or even reducing hours, reducing days, getting virtual kiosks, trying to transition to online," Deolindo added….

"We have over 50 local brands in here. We're not only supporting us, we're supporting 50 different families on this island," said Deolindo.

The store owners will raise their workers' pay, while maybe finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck….

read … Some Hawaii businesses struggle to keep up with minimum wage raises

Law Enforcement Standards Board Selects Its First Administrator

CB: … The board has two years to implement a range of measures including standardizing training for all Hawaii law enforcement. ….

Hawaii’s Law Enforcement Standards Board has selected Victor McCraw to be its first administrator, nearly six years after it was established.

McCraw is currently a consultant for a national police standards and training organization based in Idaho and a 30-year veteran of Arizona law enforcement.

His appointment is subject to accepting a conditional job offer unanimously approved by board members Friday following two final interviews. The other candidate was Gary Yamashiroya, an attorney in the office of the director of the Hawaii Department of Taxation and a veteran of the Chicago Police Department.

McCraw said that the role had the potential to be the most consequential of his career.

The administrator will manage day-to-day operations at the board and guide it through a daunting range of tasks including setting minimum qualifications for all law enforcement in Hawaii and establishing procedures by which the board can revoke officer certification.

McCraw’s appointment would culminate a protracted process that began in 2018 after the board was established by the Legislature, only to languish for years due to a lack of funding.

The board and the administrator face a deadline of July 1, 2026, to be fully operational, according to amended legislation passed this session and awaiting the governor’s signature.…

read … Law Enforcement Standards Board Selects Its First Administrator

Hawaii County police response times: 40 minutes and longer

HNN: … He says there are 50 vacancies out of 484 positions and HPD is narrowing the gap with changes in hiring standards. “We don’t want to lower the bar,” said Moszkowicz, adding that the hiring standards were developed in a time when people would “line around the block” to apply.

The audit says industry standards suggest a swift response time of within three to 15 minutes.

Hawaii Police Department’s average is 20 minutes.

The audit also pointed out that some areas — like Puna Like in Leilani — have response times of 30 minutes. In Fern Acres, the response time is a whopping 40 minutes. The chief calls that unacceptable and says Hawaii island’s geography makes covering the district tough.

That’s why he’s focused on getting more officers on the streets.

“Having an islandwide average response time of 20 minutes, it’s not OK. In South Hilo, it’s much less, but out in Ka’u or out in parts of Ocean view, or Hawaiian Paradise Park, it’s much more.” ….

Hawaii County is the only county in the state where drug overdose deaths went down last year. “We recover more money in seizures and fentanyl arrests, more firearms,” he said ….

read … Hawaii County police chief seeks to quickly hire officers amid unacceptable response times

Nine Months at Maui Homeless ‘Safe Zone’: Four Dead out of 120 Addicts allowed to use fentanyl, stage bumfights

KITV: … According to the Maui Police Department, it received 174 calls from the site – ranging from assaults, narcotics, to terroristic threats – leading to 59 incident reports.

(IDEA:  Jail.  It’s a place for criminals.)

MPD confirmed there have been four deaths at the facility since it opened weeks after the fires to house the pre-disaster homeless.

Medina claimed one of the deaths was a fentanyl overdose, adding drugs were initially forbidden from the grounds –- but he said that changed to a more open-door policy.

"It's like well, you can have them in a locker, and then it evolved to well, you can't keep track of that so people had 'em and then it went to people actually smoking fentanyl in their tents and, just as long as management doesn't come by, a security guard, we can do this," Medina said. …

Medina mentioned he disagrees with how management handles conflict at the shelter because he believes the approach often led to violence, adding other employees left because they felt unsafe.

"It's like, hey, let 'em duke it out and I'm very against that," Medina said…. 

(IDEA: Jail.)

While Medina questions management, he believes the site is needed and has helped prevent more deaths and curb drug use because about 120 unsheltered people have a place to stay…

Maui County Councilmembers met this week to discuss conditions at the shelter.

Project Vision provided written responses to their questions ahead of time, saying staff complete nationally-recognized homeless and harm reduction training, there’s around the clock security at the site, as well as surveillance cameras.

The correspondence added, “we do not allow violence or substance use on site and we do have a three strike system. We talk through every issue before giving out strikes because what is at stake is being back on the streets and that is not our goal to deprive someone of their basic needs.”….

(BETTER IDEA: Jail.)

read … Deaths, drugs, violence reported at Maui homeless shelter -- management responds to claims

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