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Hawaii turns into autocratic China

Governor Josh Green’s “Emergency Proclamation” (EP) for “Affordable Housing” is getting more alarming.

Basic protections like the Sunshine Law and Public Participation are suspended in the name of “affordable housing crisis”, to expedite development processes and alleviate the state’s acute shortage of housing units. The EP is good for twelve months. Then what?

Here is the fine print of the Emergency Proclamation.

The “Emergency Proclamation” was signed by Hawaii’s Governor Josh Green on July 17, 2023 in the name of providing “affordable” housing.
The Chief Housing Officer (LHO) is the Central Party – the EP allows the LHO to make decisions “without being certified by the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group”.

Here is a copy of Hawaii Sierra Club Director Wayne Chung Tanaka’s observations of the first “Build Beyond Barriers” meeting at the Hawaii State Capitol in August 2023.

” Takeaways:

The “Build Beyond Barriers Working Group” Chair, Nani Medeiros, unilaterally suspended ALL PROVISIONS of the Sunshine Law, despite having no justification to do so. Meeting facilitator Scott Glenn and developer consultant Trisha Watson actively sought to suppress any discussion about the illegal, non-transparent nature of the Working Group’s first meeting.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin was ejected from physically observing the meeting even after being told he could attend as a member of the public, and had the sheriffs called on him by the Governor’s deputy general counsel Jeremy Lakin.

Because there was only one microphone for a room of 30-plus participants, the Facebook livestream of the meeting was largely inaudible.

Nani Medeiros confirmed that she, as the “Lead Housing Officer,” had authority to approve any project that received any state or county waiver or exemption, or that used any state or county financing, funds, or lands. Such projects would be eligible to proceed without complying with the laws suspended by the proclamation – and without any Working Group approval, review, or notification.

“In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest.” – HRS Chapter 92 (a.k.a. the “Sunshine Law”)

The first “Build Beyond Barriers Working Group” meeting was held on Friday, and the situation with the Governor’s emergency housing proclamation is far, far worse than I had thought. While there was scarcely time for questions during a meeting largely taken up by performative introductions, Working Group leadership made clear that they had no regard for transparency or the law – even as described in the proclamation itself. Previously, I had written my concerns to Working Group chair Nani Medeiros, regarding the apparent suspension of the Sunshine Law. I had observed that the meeting had not been posted to the state calendar with the required six days’ notice.

Nani confirmed that she had decided to unilaterally suspend the notice requirement of the Sunshine Law. Her excuse pointed to logistical issues that needed to be resolved first – namely, coordinating flights for neighbor island working group members and members of the island burial councils (only one burial council member, from Molokaʻi, would end up attending – via Zoom), and finding table microphones so that “sound distribution is strong for participants and observers.”

Nani wrote that she was “committed to making these meetings accessible to the public, even if it means personally investing in equipment” (emphasis added), and promised that the meeting would be posted on the state calendar once all the details were set.

The meeting was never posted on the state calendar, and the information sent to news media for the public to observe the meeting online had the wrong time. When Working Group members arrived at the Governor’s conference room Friday morning, there was only one microphone, tethered to a conference phone by a cord not much longer than six feet, to be shared by some thirty-odd people.

Needless to say, the meeting was largely inaudible to the Facebook Live viewers who were able to find the correct link.Before the Working Group meeting began, a member of the public who wished to quietly observe in person – environmental attorney David Henkin, no less – was ejected by the Governor’s deputy general counsel, Jeremy Lakin. Jeremy even went so far as to call the state sheriffs, rather than contemplate the legality of his action.

Apparently, the public observation provisions of the Sunshine Law had also been suspended for this meeting, in addition to its public notice requirements. Public input requirements were obviously also suspended.

I immediately attempted to ask for clarity about what provisions of the Sunshine Law had been suspended, since the emergency proclamation itself only allows for the suspension of provisions of the Sunshine Law to the extent needed for “expeditious action, decision, or approval.” Posting notice on the state calendar, and allowing a member of the public to quietly observe in person – both requirements of the Sunshine Law – would not delay any conceivable actions, decisionmaking, or approvals.

(In fact, it turned out there also was no action, decisionmaking, or approval whatsoever during the meeting that would justify any Sunshine Law suspension under the proclamation, despite Nani’s prior written (and false) statement that there would be “important decision-making processes taking place.”)

Unfortunately, vice chair Scott Glenn clearly did not want me to raise these concerns, and asked that I hold my question until the end of the meeting.

During our “introductions,” I again warned the group that violating the Sunshine Law was a Big Deal and an invitation for lawsuits, and was met with blank stares. Scott said there would be time to address my concerns after introductions were complete.

Eventually, during the few minutes we had for questions, I was told that the Sunshine Law had been suspended in its entirety. When I questioned how that could be, given the language of the proclamation, developer consultant and Working Group member Trisha Watson cut me off. She said my concerns about legal compliance should be tabled, and that she had “real questions.” No one objected.

The Working Group leadership’s flippant disregard of both the law and the critical importance of public transparency was simply astounding. These are the people we, the public, are being asked to trust with the future of our islands.

In response to the only other question I was allowed to raise, Nani also confirmed that she, the lead housing officer, had unilateral authority to bypass the Working Group completely, and approve any project that received any state or county exemption or waiver, or used any state or county lands, funds, or financing. She also made clear she was under no obligation to even inform the Working Group of any such approvals.

Yes, this is real life. And incredibly, the Working Group Chair’s willingness to disregard the law, eschew transparency, and repeatedly lie – in writing, no less – makes clear that this emergency proclamation and the people in charge of it are even more dangerous than I had previously worried.

Friends, the future of our islands – our cherished landscapes, our cultural foundations, our social fabric, and even our housing crisis itself – may be harmed irrevocably by a proclamation that puts unprecedented power in the hands of a few individuals. These individuals have already shown that they will not – or cannot – even coordinate a single introductory meeting in compliance with the proclamation itself. We are now being asked to let these same people administer and enforce an initiative involving tens of thousands of un-affordable housing units across hundreds or potentially thousands of acres of land, throughout the islands.

Even with the best intentions, developers will surely run circles around this Working Group’s leadership, to the benefit of corporate profit margins, and the detriment of all that makes Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i.”

Priced out of paradise.

Lahaina, Maui has already priced local residents out of paradise.

Governor Green of Hawaii is now saying he’s exploring moratorium on property sales in historic Lahaina that has been devastated into a burnt war zone. He hopes to prevent the permanent displacement of Hawaiians and local residents.

Governor, that affordable ship has sailed.

Does the Governor not know that Lahaina has already been invaded by out of state and foreign owners? Properties in the area and elsewhere are already priced at $1M and beyond. There are occasional properties below the $1M price range and small condominiums.

By and large, Maui has become very gentrified. It has also become the retreat place of the rich and famous.

Fortunately, some of its City Council members have been trying to protect its local residents from being priced out due to rising costs, including escalating property taxes.

Proposed Real Property Tax Exemption for those living near PVT Landfill in Lualualei

Bill 39, CD1 raises interesting questions. The City Councilmember representing the District where the landfill is situated also asked for more dialogue in the Nanakuli Neighborhood Board first.

However, it’s important to note that hardly any bill or resolution is discussed or explained to residents as far as I’m aware of.

The impetus for this tax exemption appears to come from the unions. It makes as they represent a segment of their blue collar workers in this area. Unions should rightly advocate for their members.

Environmental Justice and Social Justice considerations are paramount in our public policies. So is fairness and even application of the law.

At a quick glance, the rationale for this Bill raises many questions.

  1. Is the city saying that those who live in this area are considered “expendables” and throwing an exemption is sufficient to make up for supposed “shortened life-span”, health hazards and other negative impacts from an active landfill?
  2. There are arbitrary lines of demarcation that will benefit those within a designated boundary. Those outside the immediate designated boundary will be disenfranchised. Is it fair?
  3. Is this a good policy to continue to pollute our island environment or should more emphasis be placed on recycling and limiting the amounts of landfill materials into our island. For example: Can there be an effort to initiate a recycling industry to say, repair appliances instead of simply throwing them away.
  4. Is the city working on implementing cutting-edge technology on this issue?
  5. The rationale provided by some supporters also raises questions.

The rationale above is Lualualei and Nanakuli have a lesser life-span of 10 years. What other contributing factors or data are there?


Is this 10-year life span sentence primarily due to the active PVT Landfill? This question is not to discount that negative impacts of landfills but it is to question the rationale used for this Bill.

The above two spots are opposite end of Oahu and not near PVT.

The fundamental question to be asked is the other two color spots outside of West Oahu. Those two other colored spots are not next to the active PVT landfill area. What could be the reasons for putting these areas into the shortened 10 year lifespan. Are there other factors?

Should the other two color spots be accorded the same property tax exemption?

What about those in Kahuku who live next to the industrial wind turbines with various negative health impacts?

Honolulu City Council’s 64% Pay Raise Process disses the public further

As if the 64% salary increase did not irritate the public enough. Here comes another bitter pill for the public.

Honolulu City Council District Val Okimoto introduced a new amendment to The Revised Honolulu City Charter on August 9, 2023

Okimoto’s new amendment gives absolute powers to the nominated Honolulu Salary Commission. It further disenfranchises the public’s opportunity for due process at the City Council and to hold their District Council Members accountable for their decisions.

Below is Resolution 23-193. Page 3 shows the amendment – – and is
not subject to rejection or alteration by the council or the mayor.”

In other words, the elected City Council will relinquish its responsibility to a nominated commission to decide the salary increases.

Historic Town of Lahaina, Maui burns down

It was a “perfect storm” with gusty winds and dry weather and a historic town of wooden structures. It’s compelling to see how fast the fire spread.

“Fire is a good servant, but a bad master” hits home on August 9, 2023. A hot dry summer causing dry vegetation along with gusty winds turned Lahaina into a war zone. The wooden structures did not stand a chance. The fire even burnt the vessels on the water.

Here are some screenshots taken from social media:

Before and After.
This is a photo of Pioneer Inn that was burnt down. We took this photo some time ago when our family was visiting Lahaina for leisure. I loved the history of the place. But I told myself that I would not be going back to Lahaina town. It had become over-commercialized. We walked from a hotel along a pathway next a private yard and home. I thought that it was too intrusive to the local residents and I did not want to be that part of that touristy crowd.
Lahaina was a bustling tourist center. These wooden structures didn’t stand a chance.

Oahu North Shore murderers found guilty

The pink-hair girl and the green-hair guy murdered Telma Boinville at the Sunset Beachfront vacation rental unit where Telma was cleaning.

Stephen Brown was found guilty on January 20, 2023. His partner Haile Dandurand requested a separate trial arguing that she was a also victim of abuse by Stephen Brown herself.

On August 1, 2023, Oregonian Hailey Dandurand was found GUILTY on all counts relating to Telma Boinville’s murder at a north shore vacation rental. Telma worked as a translator at Sunset Beach Elementary School and also worked as a cleaner.

The murder was so gruesome and heinous that one juror could not even look at the photos and asked to be released.

Telma’s 8-year-old daughter was also tied up in an upstairs bedroom. She was lucky that the vacation renters arrived at the premises and caused these two murderers to flee.

Report on Oahu landfill sites is available

This 1464 page Report is available online.

Wherever the site is, it’s worrisome. We’re a small island. How many times can we duplicate this modus operandi before we irreparably poison our environment and especially our connected water aquifer?

Are we putting our best efforts in Recycling and Re-use? Is it time to mandate that some items brought in must be take out – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

How the selection has evolved:

Landfill site in Oahu still a mystery

The Honolulu City County is supposed to provide a site for a new landfill.

The process for finding a new landfill has been ongoing. Right now, the deliberating process is unknown to the public.

This was a PBS Insights aired on June 15, 2023.

Here are some reading materials:

Read the 2012 Commission Report of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection (MACLS). Particularly, read the Minority Report by John B Goody on Page 47. “The revised site rankings were astounding, and seem to defy common sense.”

Kailua, Waianae, Kapolei, Waianae have all staked their grounds that they don’t want landfills in their areas.

The process has with its twists and turns.

The consultant compiling statistics for Mayor Peter Carlisle’s Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection said Wednesday it had made a big mistake. On Friday, just five days ago, the committee announced Kailua as the top ranked location for a new landfill. Its announcement was based on data compiled by SMS Research, a Honolulu firm hired by the city.

But in fact SMS President Jim Dannemiller said Wednesday he had made an “inadvertent data error” while compiling numbers provided by the advisory committee. The mistake changes the positions of almost all eleven potential landfill sites on the site selection list.

A site described as “Upland Kahuku 2” was seventh on the list released Friday. Now it is the new #1. “Upland Kahuku 1,” which is adjacent to “Upland Kahuku 2” is second on the revised list.

The Ameron Quarry moved from first on Friday’s list to fifth on the revised list.

Here is the new updated list released Wednesday afternoon.

1. Upland Kahuku 2 – (previously ranked #7)

2. Upland Kahuku 1- (previously ranked #3)

3. Upland Pupukea 2 – (previously ranked #6)

4. Upland Pupukea 1 – (previously ranked #4)

5. Ameron Quarry – (previously ranked #1

This is the list:


• Ameron Quarry,

• Kaneohe by H-3,

• Kapaa Quarry Road,

• Keaau,

• Upland Hawaii Kai,

• Upland Kahuku 1,

• Upland Kahuku 2,

• Upland Laie,

• Upland Nanakuli 1,

• Upland Pupukea 1, and •

Upland Pupukea 2; and

A New Mayor, A New Commission:

Here is more reading material for this issue.

The City and County of Honolulu (“City”) Department of Environmental Services (“ENV”) has begun identifying potential sites for its next municipal solid waste landfill. To help discern potential sites, ENV formed a Landfill Advisory Committee (“LAC”) to evaluate the sites identified to meet current State regulations. The LAC process is documented in the Final Report.