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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Seeking advice on what to do with a vintage fir floor

August 31st, 2014 · 1 Comment

This is a purely personal post. No politics, no media, no criticism.

We’re considering refinishing an old, 1940-era wood floor. Well, to be more precise, finding someone to refinish it. We’re told it’s vertical grain fir. It looks its age right now, with some areas of damage.

One flooring installer advised just getting rid of it and laying new flooring on top of it, but we’re worried that this was just for the sake of the installer’s convenience.

Looking online, it appears that if we lived in Seattle, there would be multiple contractors ready to work with the old fir floor and restore it.

If the floor can be saved, we would prefer to take that path. But we don’t know the pros and cons of restoring and refinishing this kind of relatively soft wood floor.

So we’re looking for a recommendation of someone locally we can rely on to give us an opinion on whether it’s worth restoring this particular old floor.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

You can leave a comment here, or email me.

→ 1 CommentTags: Consumer issues

Columnists split on UH football fans

August 31st, 2014 · 2 Comments

The University of Hawaii football team surprised more than a few observers by staying tantalizingly close to the University of Washington’s nationally ranked Huskies in the season opener.

I don’t usually comment on sports, but a reader pointed to an interesting anomaly in the Star-Advertiser’s coverage of the game.

His comment: “…read the first few graphs of Reardon’s and Lewis’ columns today. Makes you wonder if they were at the same game–and who’s editing the paper.”

So I did. And, yes, it does.

Here’s Ferd Lewis (“Hawaii’s long-lost defense shows up in season opener“):

The chant rolled through Aloha Stadium like claps of rising thunder: “Dee-fense! Dee-fense!”

For the first time in years it was again a rallying cry of the University of Hawaii football faithful, not some longshot prayer to the heavens.

And for the better part of 3 hours and 20 minutes of a fiercely contested Saturday night game, the Rainbow Warriors responded with an inspiring effort that made a crowd of 32,197 stick around to the bitter end of a 17-16 loss to 25th-ranked Washington and applaud the effort.

And then there’s Dave Reardon’s take on the same event (“Effort has players believing they can play with anyone“):

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why were people, obviously University of Hawaii fans judging by their attire, streaming out of Aloha Stadium with 2:40 left in the game and UH down by just one point?

Washington had the ball at its own 29, first-and-10, and the Rainbow Warriors had all their timeouts left. This game was by no means over, especially considering the way the UH defense had stifled the Washington defense the entire second half.

So were fans bailing out, or staying to the bitter end?

Was the glass half full, or…?

→ 2 CommentsTags: Media

A Three Dog Moment in Kaaawa

August 30th, 2014 · 3 Comments

We may not have dogs at home–the seven cats would not approve–but we’ve got a lot of canine friends throughout Kaaawa, like this trio that greeted us early this morning.

It’s amazing just how powerful a couple of dog biscuits can be!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Dogs · video

The impact of ultra-luxury but empty condominiums

August 30th, 2014 · 4 Comments

A comment left on a recent post about housing made an interesting point that I think is worth sharing more broadly (here’s the original post, “Looking back: The housing crisis in 1991“).

Here’s an excerpt from the long comment by the reader who uses the name, “compare and decide.”

One aspect of luxury condominiums that has not been mentioned is that most of the year, those apartments are empty. If you drive down the H-1 in the evening and look at small apartments for middle-class people, they are 90% occupied. The lights are on and people are eating dinner or watching TV. Once you get into town and look at luxury condos, often 90% of the lights are off in the evening. (Anecdotally, I once pointed to a luxury apartment building from the parking lot of Ala Moana Center; only a few lights were on in the building. One person I was with said, “I have a friend who owns a condo there. He lives in Nashville.” Also, I once visited Imperial Plaza on the corner of Cooke and Kapiolani one evening. The building was virtually empty. The people I met there had lived there for a year and said they never saw anyone in the hallways, elevator or lobby when they went to work in the morning and came home in the evening.)

So we can talk about green spaces and bike lanes and walkability. But few will actually live in Kakaako. But that might also mean that rail usage will also not be optimal in Kakaako – the one place where it could have worked best.

It is true that buildings through Makiki, for example, appear to be far more occupied than many of those already in Kakaako.

I’ll have to check whether there are significant differences in the percent of units that are owner occupied.

But that aside, I wonder if the prediction that “few will actually live in Kakaako” will prove to be correct?

→ 4 CommentsTags: Economics · environment · Politics

Judiciary responds to question of fees for online access to court documents

August 29th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Judiciary spokesperson, Marsha Kitagawa, responded to Wednesday’s post regarding the cost to the public of digital files from cases before the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Hawaii Supreme Court (“Reasonable cost for public documents delivered in electronic form?“).

It’s a long response. I’ll walk through my comment on certain points Kitagawa raises, and provide a link to her full response at the end of this post.

1. In response to my statement that the courts do not provide a “suitable area” for the public to review digital records, Kitagawa writes:

“There is a computer dedicated for public use at the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, and at the law libraries in the state courthouses in Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, and on Maui and Kauai. There is no charge to view imaged documents or to use the computer.”

The Hawaii Supreme Court has a tiny area to accommodate requests to view court records. If I recall correctly, there’s a single computer set up for “public” use. Public use, for this purpose, includes attorneys, other researchers, plaintiffs, and so on. It really isn’t conducive to extended public use, note taking, etc. When you are there, you’re just in the way, and it feels like it.

Compare to the federal Bankruptcy Court in downtown Honolulu. They have several terminals set up for viewing digital files, tables where you can set up your laptop for note taking, etc. It works. I’m sorry, but the Judiciary’s provision of single terminals in a few spots statewide may meet the technical requirement for public access, but it’s not really designed to provide public access, if you see the difference I’m talking about.

2. As to the process of proposing and approving the fee structure:

“…as it does with all proposed rules and proposed rule changes, the Hawaii Supreme Court solicited and obtained public comment on the Hawaii Court Record Rules (HCRR) well before the rules became effective in September 2010. And when the Hawaii Supreme Court considered input proposing changes to HCRR, it again solicited public comment before amending the rules in June 2012.”

It’s a little confusing, because there are at least two types of court records, those that originate as paper documents, and those that are filed electronically. The post was specifically referring to those that originate as digital files.

I tracked back to the 2010 request for public comment, which was treated no differently than other court rules that impact attorneys but not the general public.

Here’s the rule as proposed governing access to digital documents from the Judiciary Information Management System.

11.2 Internet Access. The Administrative Director shall provide internet access to the dockets of non-confidential JIMS cases without cost. The Administrative Director may provide internet access to public documents in non-confidential cases by subscription at such rates as shall be determined from time to time by the supreme court. The Administrative Director may provide internet access through a secure network connection to confidential, sealed, or restricted records by subscription to parties and attorneys entitled thereto.

So the rules say the public “shall” get free online access to case dockets. Getting to documents, though, will be subject to fees to be set “from time to time” by the supreme court.

Was there public notice when the court set the fee schedule? A chance for public input on the fee decision?

It would appear that amending the fee schedule is up to the supremes.

3. Kitagawa confirmed that several people can share a single subscription to the Judiary’s document system.

“A $500 annual subscription may prove cost effective for a law firm or news organization whose employees (i.e. lawyers and paralegals or reporters and editors, respectively) have an ongoing need to access case documents.”

That’s good news. If you would like to join a reporter/blogger hui to share a subscription, email me and we can explore how the logistics of this might work.

4. Kitagawa went further to describe additional documents now available online, and more “in the works.”

“You may be pleased to know that appellate documents are not the only case documents available in eCourt Kokua. Imaged documents in misdemeanor cases filed in the statewide District Court have been available for downloading and viewing since August 2012. The Circuit Court criminal, or felony, module is currently in the works. It will be followed by Circuit and District Court civil cases. Family court cases will be the last case type to be incorporated into our case management system, and when it is, all case documents will be accessible via eCourt Kokua.”

Yes, the addition of online access to Circuit and District Court civil cases will make the current subscription rate reasonable, at least in my view.

Perhaps some consideration should be given to free public access to a certain number of documents, as well as changing to a “10 cents a page, up to a maximum of $3″ per document, the same as the current PACER system for federal documents.

You can read Kitagawa’s full response here.

Share your other suggestions and reactions, please!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Court · Sunshine