Another month brings the latest City of Honolulu attempt to reduce the permit backlog at the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP). Bill 6 would authorize licensed architects and engineers to certify their plans comply with applicable laws. The city’s employee union is critical of the measure and thinks that builders should wait as the city struggles to hire 105 people to fill the vacant positions. If passed, the measure would sunset in seven years.
Two Honolulu City Council members, Augie Tulba and Andria Tupola, have introduced two resolutions to reject the Honolulu Salary Commissions recommendation to increase city council member pay by 64%. The part-time job currently pays $76,968 and would increase to $123,288. The commission argues that the members should be paid for full-time work while opponents argue that many Hawaii families work multiple jobs to make ends meet. There has been little public support for such a dramatic increase.
Prior state house member Ty Cullen was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for taking $30,000 in bribes over a seven-year period and fined $25,000. Cullen has already paid the $25,000 fine and received a shorter sentence by cooperating with prosecutors.
Aging in Hawaii is not pretty if you need to move to a long-term nursing facility. Elderly patients are occupying hospital beds waiting for an available space in a nursing home. One individual has been waiting for two hundred days preventing a new patient from being treated at the hospital. The state currently has seven hundred openings for certified nurse aides and the staffing shortage is preventing the addition of new beds. It might be time to offer wages higher than Target for this physically and mentally challenging position.
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) recently deemed four of six proposed sites unsuitable and announced that its search for new water wells to replace the Red Hill shaft and two nearby. The closure of the Red Hill shaft has resulted in a 20% reduction in water supply to the west side of the island. New locations identified are located further uphill requiring BWS to drill deeper wells.
The Honolulu Star Advertiser caught up with the River of Life Mission one year after it closed its Chinatown feeding program that became the bane of the Chinatown neighborhood. The mission used to serve 600 to 700 meals per day at the Chinatown location and now delivers meals to forty locations on Oahu. River of Life’s executive director spoke to 320 missions in Orlando, FL to talk about their new model and how other missions throughout the country can replicate it. The mission also partners with fifty-three churches, fifty-four social service agencies, and one hundred volunteer veterinarians, barbers, manicurists, and other professionals to help the homeless obtain health checkups, haircuts, and assistance getting government benefits and housing. Seventy-seven homeless people have checked into a detox or shelter with the mission’s help over the past year. River of Life has shown that an organization can be a good neighbor and help those who desperately need it.