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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
November 30, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:18 AM :: 1217 Views

Slightly Lower Vaccination Numbers After State DOH Tech Upgrade

State Completes implementation of new electronic time and leave system

October, 2021 Visitor Spending Down 15.3% from 2019

Convicted Cop In Kealoha Case Gets His Job Back In Arbitration--With Back Pay

CB: … Daniel Sellers, a Honolulu police sergeant fired after pleading guilty in 2019 to federal charges for helping former police chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine, frame a family member for the theft of their mailbox, is slated to return to duty.

Sellers confirmed to Civil Beat on Monday that a third-party arbitrator ordered that he be reinstated with the Honolulu Police Department after he challenged his termination with the help of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers….

Sellers was one of four officers assigned to a secret intelligence unit within HPD who were indicted along with the Kealohas in October 2017 for taking part in an elaborate scheme to frame Katherine’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of their mailbox.

In January 2019, before the case went to trial, Sellers pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of illegally disclosing confidential material to Katherine Kealoha when he shared details from a federal law enforcement database about the types of vehicles registered to her uncle. He also agreed to work with federal prosecutors as they continued to build their case against the Kealohas and others within the police department….

HNN:  Officer fired in connection with Kealoha scandal will get his job back ― and back pay

read … Convicted Cop In Kealoha Case Gets His Job Back In Arbitration

Blindspots in network of child protections probed in wake of Isabella Kalua murder

KHON: … Always Investigating examines what safeguards should have protected these children, and what blindspots are in a multiagency system that serves thousands of children in Hawaii….

As shocking as the murder charges are against the Kaluas, so are the ongoing child abuse allegations revealed in their indictment and other allegations that have surfaced since their arrest, including:

* Physical and mental child endangerment from the time they took in Isabella and a sibling in February 2019 through to Isabella’s presumed death this August and the siblings’ removal from the home in September;

* Persistent failure to support essentials like food, shelter, clothing even education; and

* Spans of abuse alleged against Lehua this past June, July and August.

The extent of involvement in each case for Child Welfare Services, police, courts, schools, and other third-party guardians and mandatory reporters is largely sealed, but we do know several incidents rose to the level of police, case-worker and even what’s called “multidisciplinary team” review.

“That (the team review) only happens when CWS has made an internal determination there’s likely abuse,” explained Stephen Lane, a child advocate who also served as a special master on the Peter Boy Kema case. “That’s the only reason you call it in place of multidisciplinary return meeting, to review allegations of an injury to a child.”

A CWS spokesperson explained the multidisciplinary team can include psychologists, social workers, nurses, even pediatricians. If they “determine no child abuse and neglect has occurred and CWS is in full agreement, then CWS will take no further action. But CWS can continue to monitor the case if they still have concerns. MDTs can be initiated with or without court order,” the agency said.

It’s not clear if or when the family court was alerted to red flags including whether something called the “family court tort protocol” was triggered, and if the court properly followed through if so. That’s a form mandatory reporting in-writing to the judge by CWS or anyone else with substantive knowledge of abuse.

“Just going the police isn’t enough. That’s not what the protocol requires,” Lane said. “That’s why the judge wants to know, then the judge has the benefit of the CWS report, and the police report, and all of the other documents, the medical records. That’s the only way that the court can get, I think, a full and accurate picture of what occurred. This child should never have died.”

CWS explained: “CWS refers suspected abuse to police as deemed appropriate, regardless of whether there is Family Court involvement. The Family Court Tort Protocol is applied to child welfare cases that Family Court in the First Circuit already has jurisdiction over and where a potential claim for a tort may exist. If that protocol is applicable and a child may have suffered an injury that could be considered an actionable tort under Federal and/or State law, the Court is informed in writing of such by CWS.” …

A fourth child was still a foster as of the children’s removal from the home following Isabella’s disappearance.

“Typically, if a child is under foster custody to DHS, the case worker must have at least one face-to-face visit per month,” CWS explained. “Additionally, the child’s guardian ad litem is required to have face-to-face contact at least once every three months.”…

read … Blindspots in network of child protections probed in wake of Isabella Kalua murder

Lehua and Isaac Kalua plead not guilty to murder, other charges in death of adopted daughter

SA: … Family Prosecution Division Chief Tiffany Kaeo has said the couple “took multiple steps to destroy evidence” that include using cleaning agents to thoroughly clean the house and discarding items at locations around the island.

The child’s remains have not been found.

If convicted, the Kaluas face an extended imprisonment term of life without the possibility of parole because the victim was under the age of 9….

read … Lehua and Isaac Kalua plead not guilty to murder, other charges in death of adopted daughter

Hilo couple faces felony child abuse charges

HTH: … Two Hilo residents were indicted for a string of domestic abuse incidents that occurred in September and October, according to county Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen.

Kyle Yamada, 42, was charged with unlawful imprisonment, six counts of felony domestic abuse, second-degree assault, attempted second-degree assault and misdemeanor domestic abuse.

Joleen Sarmiento, 37, was charged with felony domestic abuse and being an accomplice to felony domestic abuse.

The victim was a child or more than one child. Ages were not disclosed, although some incidents occurred in the presence of a minor younger than 14 — making them a felony….

BIN: Hilo Couple Faces Charges Related to Child Abuse, Several Others

read …  Hilo couple faces felony abuse charges

UPW Overtime Games Cause unsafe conditions:  Senator makes surprise prison inspection

SA: … State Sen. Kurt Fevella said there were supposed to be 91 adult correctional officers on the morning shift at the Halawa Correctional Facility on Monday.

But during his inspection, only 58 were present ― 33 positions were either vacant or on leave.

“This is the worst ever,” he said.

Fevella, a Republican who represents Ewa Beach, said the staffing shortages have forced correctional officers to work 16- to 32-hour shifts ― potentially dangerous for guards and inmates alike.

“We get inmates challenging the guards because they know the guards are tired. ‘Get in your cell. I don’t like get in my cell.’ Call for back up, they know they don’t have back up,” he said….

They said there are 332 adult correctional officers assigned to Halawa. But on any given day, more than 100 positions are either vacant or are occupied by a staffer on leave.

Public safety officials said they have reached out to trainees and retirees to fill the vacancies and that deputy sheriffs are patrolling the perimeter of the prison.

But Fevella said deputy sheriffs should also patrol inside the prison and that prison officials should make emergency hires ― instead of paying so much money in overtime….

FLASHBACK: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

KHON: Halawa guards working 40 to 50 hours straight as absences and vacancies mount

read … Prompted by reports of unsafe conditions, senator makes surprise prison inspection

Legislative push-back could follow “gut and replace” ruling

ILind: … If history is any indication, we should brace ourselves for legislative pushback against the recent Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that found the “gut and replace” maneuver in violation of the state constitution’s mandate that a bill must pass three readings in each house in order to become law….

…a brief filed on behalf of the Legislature by former Congresswoman and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa made clear the Legislature’s position.

“The primary issue presented in this appeal is whether the overruling of the decision of the circuit court would result with judicial intrusion upon a co-equal branch of government. The Legislature believes this appeal is about the separation of powers.”….

This is not the first time that Legislators have accused the judiciary and the courts of overstepping their constitutional bounds and intruding on legislative prerogatives, and then retaliated.

One example followed a series of decisions, beginning in 2012, in which the Supreme Court ruled legislators had failed to comply with a 1978 constitutional amendment requiring that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands be provided sufficient funds for its operations. A 2015 Circuit Court ruling put a number on the constitutional deficiency, saying more than $28 million in additional funding would be necessary to comply with the constitutional requirement.

Legislative leaders reacted by pushing a series of bills during the 2016 session that would have reduced judicial independence and exerted more political control over judicial retention decisions.

At least two bills would have required judges to be elected, while another would take the power to approve judicial reappointments away from the state’s Judicial Selection Commission by requiring Senate consent or approval of judges seeking additional terms….

read … Legislative push-back could follow “gut and replace” ruling

Hawaii officials advise all users of Navy’s water system to avoid using water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene

SA: … Nimitz Elementary and Red Hill Elementary have also reported a chemical-like odor coming from their water lines, the Hawaii Department of Education confirmed this afternoon. ….

Holy Family Catholic Academy, which enrolls students in pre-school to eighth grade, canceled school this morning after hearing news reports about a chemical smell in the area’s drinking water that school officials subsequently detected on campus….

SA: Military families living near Red Hill blame sickness on tainted water

HNN: DOH: Navy water system users should avoid consuming water after ‘Fuel-like’ odor reported

read … Hawaii officials advise all users of Navy’s water system to avoid using water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene

After 18 months, Puuhonua o Waianae completes first house

SA: … on 20 acres owned by Dynamic Community Solutions, Puuhonua o Waianae’s nonprofit arm, which purchased the designated agricultural land for $1.4 million cash last year in order to develop a tiny home community and a working farm….

The big-picture plan, Borge said, is to build 90 duplexes, for a total of 180 homes, arranged in five clusters with communal bathrooms and kitchens, and one central hale halawai, or gathering hall, for the entire community; the development would be able to house 250 people, the average pre-pandemic population of Puuhonua o Waianae. The count has dropped to about 200 since the pandemic began, she added.

The goal is to complete the first housing cluster by the end of the first quarter of 2022, said James Koshiba of the nonprofit Hui Aloha, a longtime volunteer in helping the makai village meet its needs. “There’ve been supply chain issues because of COVID, making it hard to get materials — and more expensive — but that’s still our goal,” he said….

read … Puuhonua o Waianae completes first, prototype house to help residents relocate from nearby harbor

Hawaii County Cost of Government Commission to convene

HTH: … Mayor Mitch Roth has tapped residents with backgrounds in the island Fire Department, U.S. Marines and Army, as well as a forensic engineer, software engineer and meteorologist to serve on the Cost of Government Commission, and he’s looking for three more candidates….

Currently, there are vacancies in Puna Council Districts 4 and 5, as well as Hamakua District 1.

Residents of those districts are encouraged to apply at https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/our-county/boards-and-commissions .

read … Cost of Government Commission to convene

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