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Sunday, April 4, 2021
April 4, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:08 PM :: 2152 Views

What Does the Honolulu Council Want to Know About Kimura Shooting?

Vaccine Passport Unconstitutional?

Al Hee Claims Ownership of Federal Subsidies--Court Laughs

Return of the Frankenbill!

Feds fight Hawaii corruption as local enforcers are MIA (again)

Shapiro: … It’s infuriating to see federal prosecutors once again having to expose local public corruption that city and state authorities should have been on long ago.

This time it was five current and former employees of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting charged by the U.S. attorney with allegedly soliciting thousands in bribes for giving favored treatment to building projects — a practice suspected for years.

… it reflects terribly on city prosecutors and state attorneys general, who for years have heard credible allegations of such bribery and did little, leaving the FBI and U.S. attorney to take out the trash.

In 2018, civil engineer and permit router Lauren Hudson testified to the City Council, “I don’t want to blatantly say bribery, but there are gifts and favoritism. I have had multiple real estate agents and many, many clients ask me to pay a gift to a ‘friend’ in DPP to have their permits, you know, passed through, and I refuse. … I shouldn’t have to pay a civil servant a gift to do their job.”

She was scolded by then-Councilman Ron Menor: “You’ve raised some very serious allegations. You’ve used the words bribery, favoritism, gifts being handed under the table. … Do you have concrete evidence to back that up? If you don’t, you ought to be very careful about making those kinds of statements.”

It’s a clear and troubling pattern. As local authorities ignored signs of massive corruption by former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine, the U.S. attorney stepped in and convicted both on multiple counts of fraud and other misdeeds.

Federal prosecutors are also pursuing ongoing cases untouched by local authorities involving former Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and other city officials, the free- spending Honolulu rail project and an alleged local organized crime ring.

In 2019, federal prosecutors struck a plea deal with Frank James Lyon, a local engineering executive and former city zoning board member who admitted paying state officials $250,000 for $2.5 million in contracts.

There’s little public sign of state action against its employees who allegedly received the bribes.

The recent guilty plea by Hanalei Aipoalani for accepting a bribe while serving as the city’s CARES Act administrator was also the result of a federal investigation ….

Cataluna: Blangiardi Has A Chance To Change The Game On City Corruption

read … Feds fight Hawaii corruption as local enforcers are MIA

A for Auditor, V for Vendetta

GH: … Hearing the news of the House Speaker’s unfolding vendetta against the State Auditor is just too much. It’s a depressingly clear example of the abuse of power that occurs far too often at the State Capitol….

the investigation report released just a few days ago concluded that the State Auditor has “not been in complete compliance” with the Hawaii State Constitution.

This is absolutely ludicrous.

I would argue that the Hawaii State Legislature, in particular the leadership of the House, does not operate “in complete compliance” with the Hawaii State Constitution. The same of course can be said of DHHL, DLNR, OHA, DOE, DHS, and any number of state agencies and departments.

Does anyone attempting to collect unemployment benefits believe the DLIR is operating “in complete compliance” with the State Constitution?

Agencies are understaffed, the workload doesn’t stop, and yes too often reports are late and services may be delayed. This has always been the case. And during a pandemic, it’s even more so.

And what’s next? Is the Speaker seriously going to try to remove the auditor by forcing a 2/3 vote in the House and Senate during these final few weeks of the session? ….

power and fear are the primary tools of decision-making currently in place in the State House. If Speaker Saiki is successful at removing the Auditor, there will be an inevitable chilling effect on the actions of all future State Auditors. 

I am hopeful that a majority in the House will say no. Barring that, I am further hopeful and confident that those in the Senate will recognize a witch-hunt when they see one and refuse to participate.

We need to remember and to remind those who may forget, that this is “the People’s House” and not anyone's private fiefdom - regardless of the title they may hold….

Gary Hooser, Pono Hawaii Initiative …

read … A for Auditor, V for Vendetta

Carbon Tax: Jack up gasoline prices by $0.60 per gallon to Get the little Peoples’ Cars out of our way

SA: … The state Legislature appropriated $150,000 two years ago for “a study of carbon pricing, including whether and how a carbon pricing policy shall be implemented in Hawaii” (Act 122, SLH 2019). The study was released recently, and it examines different options for placing a tax on fossil fuels to reduce consumption. It also examines different options for using the tax revenue, including returning it to people in equal shares.

The following quotes are excerpts of the study:

>> “A carbon tax puts an explicit price on GHG {greenhouse gas) emissions and many prior studies have found it to be the lowest-cost way to reduce GHGs.”

>> “The price increase encourages industry and consumers to shift toward activities that result in fewer GHGs. Having an economy- wide approach, rather than a set of sector-by-sector policies, lowers the cost of reducing GHGs because it captures a range of GHG reduction opportunities while harmonizing sectoral interactions.”

>> “Returning the revenues to households has been shown in numerous studies to make taxing carbon a more progressive policy. This means it provides more than proportional benefits to lower-income households. Making the policy progressive can be done through dividend payments of equal shares across households or payments more specifically targeting lower income households.”

Among other things, the study examines a pricing scenario applied to all fossil fuels that would increase gasoline prices by 50 cents per gallon in 2025 and 60 cents per gallon in 2045. Electricity prices would not increase….

read … New study adds fuel for Hawaii carbon fee to curb emissions

Does your state want a cut of your federal unemployment benefits?

RD: … The 13 states that are still taxing federal unemployment benefits are: Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and West Virginia ….

read … Does your state want a cut of your federal unemployment benefits?

HGEA, CoC: Hawaii legislative leaders wise to be patient

SA: … This abrupt economic downturn led to discussions about a dramatic slashing of our state budget, citing an unprecedented revenue shortfall projected by the current administration. The most draconian options were considered, developed and even publicly announced as necessary to get Hawaii out of the situation we faced.

Against this backdrop, our country was going through a transition in the administration and Congress. During this time, several local leaders and economists urged patience in dealing with our state budget crisis. These calm voices provided a much-needed perspective that helped foster an open dialogue about the best path forward.

Today, Hawaii and the rest of our 50 states are seeing the benefit of unprecedented federal support to rebuild our country’s economy. We in Hawaii stand to see between $6-7 billion in direct and indirect aid from the federal government.

Throughout this crisis, our state Legislature stood fast and displayed the patience called for by economists and other local business leaders. The Legislature chose not to act in knee-jerk fashion and slash our state government. They resisted the call to make changes that would cripple local nonprofits and small business. They waited until we could pivot to a new place with tremendous federal support.

Today, the Legislature has an insurmountable task, unlike any other sessions, to balance the budget. Against this backdrop, our Legislature is showing true leadership in looking to use some of the monies coming from the president’s recovery plan to restore funding to essential government services, nonprofits and pay off the loan the state took out for unemployment insurance (UI). This ensures our local businesses will not be stiffed with an unaffordable increase in UI premiums as required by law.

Legislative leaders are looking to pay off the debts Hawaii incurred during the pandemic and get our state on a faster path to resiliency and recovery.

Whether it was the leadership they showed in forcing more contact tracing early in the pandemic, developing a volunteer pool for intaking UI claims, or showing the foresight to move deliberately before making drastic cuts — legislative leaders kept Hawaii afloat through their efforts and partnering with key business leaders in our state….

(Translation: Hawaii is a corporatist state.)

read … HGEA, CoC 

COVID Justice:  13–Time Loser Finally Re-Arrested After Beating Elderly Woman Right in Front of Police

HNN: … Waonette Carvalho says she was patiently waiting at a bus stop near Hotel and Bishop Streets when a stranger boldly approached her. She never realized what would happen next would land her in the hospital.

Carvalho, who is 66 years old, says she is still haunted by the encounter.

“Two weeks later, at night, I cry,” Carvalho says.

She says that she remembers that the man was swearing at her, asking for a cigarette.

“I didn’t know he was acknowledging me. So I turned around, I looked around. He said that’s right, that’s you, **** I want an ** cigarette.”

Carvalho says she tried to walk away, but then felt a blow.

“I went over my chair, over my dog, in mid air and I could feel the pain.”

The man kicked her back, cracking her pelvis and then just walked away.

Carvalho says before the incident she used a walker, but now she has to use a wheelchair.

After the incident happened, she said the suspect happened to walk right into police officers.

The suspect, 31-year-old, Dennis Niupulusu was arrested and charged with assault….

HNN: Judicial directive aimed at curtailing COVID in jails causing problems in streets, hospitals

read … COVID Justice

Hawaii lawmakers poised to reform program that allows police to seize cash and cars

SA: … Hawaii lawmakers are poised to pass legislation reforming the state’s civil asset forfeiture program, which allows law enforcement agencies to seize property, such as cars and cash, that they suspect is connected to criminal activity. But the bill could still be rejected by Gov. David Ige, who vetoed similar legislation in 2019.

Law enforcement agencies argue the seizures are an important tool for deterring crime. But the practice is controversial, and critics, including public defenders and civil liberties advocates, say it’s ripe for abuse.

Police are allowed to take property even if they never charge the owner with a crime or obtain a conviction. A 2018 state audit requested by the Legislature found that in 26% of civil asset forfeiture cases closed during the 2015 fiscal year, there were never any corresponding criminal charges. In 4% of cases, the underlying charge was ultimately dismissed….

read … Asset Forfeiture

Get Involved With A Public Board Or Commission. They Need You

CB: … They offer citizens a way to take part in government without having to organize a political campaign ….

read … Get Involved With A Public Board Or Commission. They Need You

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