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Wednesday, December 1, 2021
December 1, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:45 PM :: 1883 Views

One Year After $4M Insider Cacao Loss--KS to 'Invest' in More Food-Related Schemes

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Orders Red Hill Investigation 

SHOPO Contract Organizes Officers to Get Their Stories Together With Union Rep Before Filing Reports…and Much More

CB: … Honolulu police officer Chanel Price was one of several officers who saw her colleague, Officer Geoffrey Thom, shoot 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap after a car chase that ended at the Ala Wai Canal.

When city prosecutors charged Thom with second-degree murder, Price was called to testify during his preliminary hearing about what she’d witnessed the day Sykap was killed.

In addition to acknowledging that she would have pulled the trigger if in the same position, she said she and other officers at the scene, including Thom, wrote their reports together with a union official present in the room. That official, she said, even reviewed her report before she turned it in….

The revelation was surprising, particularly to Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm, who had been openly criticized by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers for pursuing criminal charges in the first place.

After a state court judge dismissed the charges against Thom and two other officers, Alm held a press conference in which he raised concerns about the  Honolulu Police Department letting the officers cross check their reports.

“That procedure – getting together – would never be allowed in other cases involving suspects in any other crime,” Alm said. “That shouldn’t have happened here.”

The reason it did, however, is because of a provision in the SHOPO collective bargaining agreement. Any officer involved in a “critical incident,” such as a shooting death, is allowed up to four hours to meet with their union representative or their own attorney before filing a police report….

The SHOPO contract dictates much of how officers are investigated, not just for deadly force cases, but also misconduct and criminal behavior. Across the nation, activists, mayors and police chiefs have highlighted the power of police unions in their calls for reform, but the issue hardly gets any attention from policy makers in Hawaii let alone public discussion.

Now, the SHOPO contract, which expires this year, is currently under negotiation, but confidentiality agreements among the parties, which includes the state and all four counties, means that anything of public interest that might be on the table will remain secret until an agreement is finalized….

The contract even gives SHOPO a say in how an arbitrator is selected, a process that critics say incentivizes arbitrators to make decisions in favor of the union so that they are chosen again in the future….

HPD had destroyed the disciplinary file of Ethan Ferguson, an officer who had been fired by the department after he was caught lying to investigators about his whereabouts with an underage runaway. 

(NOTE: His mother, Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, was president of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the union representing DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers..)

Two years later Ferguson was arrested and charged for raping a teen on the Big Island while working as a conservation officer for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources….

read … The Power Of SHOPO: Here’s How The Police Union Contract Drives Public Policy

PSD Corruption Undermines HOPE Probation Program

FM: … Last month, a woman won $7 million in a federal court in Hawaii against the state’s Department of Public Safety, its former director Nolan Espinda, and Honolulu Deputy Sheriff Freddie Carabbacan. She accused Carabbacan, whose behavior had been subject to scrutiny in the past, of sexual assault when she was incarcerated at the local jail. According to her testimony, she had told her fellow prisoners: “Who would believe me? I’m an addict.”

Far from being in jail for committing a serious crime, she was there because of a violation of probation under Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement program, or HOPE Probation for short.

(Translation: HOPE is only as good as the system it feeds criminals in to.)

Steve Alm, a former judge who now serves as the elected top prosecutor of Honolulu County, Hawaii, invented HOPE Probation in 2004. He explained in 2015 that his philosophy sees probation and parole like child-rearing. “You tell your child you care but families have rules,” he said. “All misbehavior results in a swift, certain, consistent and proportionate response.”

Since 2014, the federal government has issued nearly $15 million to more than 30 states to develop similar programs….

Jesse Zortman, a forensic psychotherapist in Pennsylvania, spent years interviewing men who were assigned to HOPE Probation in Pennsylvania. He did not find that they “loved” it.

“HOPE is a deterrence-based paradigm,” he told Filter. “Unfortunately, this correctional model ignores empirically-known causes of recidivism, favoring certainty of punishment over treatment. Simply put, rehabilitation is not the goal.”

“Sure, you might get some short-term compliance,” he continued. “But when you ignore over 40 years of criminological research and do not address things such as antisocial attitudes and cognitions, these underlying factors will continue to develop and lead the individual into future crime. Just like programs such as ‘scared straight,’ specific deterrence simply does not work.”

Zortman also pointed to an evaluation of HOPE Probation published in Federal Probation magazine. It predicted that, “when jurisdictions exhaust their ability to improve swiftness and certainty, they will seek to reduce violations and recidivism with the only component of punishment remaining in their arsenal: severity.”…

Other evidence suggests that HOPE does not succeed even according to its architects’ framing. When the Justice Department encouraged the implementation of HOPE via grant funding in four pilot counties in 2012, under the name Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, researchers found that “HOPE probationers had a statistically significant greater number of probation violations,” when compared with the probationers in the control group. On that basis, the National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions portal rates HOPE “no effects.”

A different result from the DOJ study perhaps shows the real purpose behind the program: abstinence from drugs, including alcohol, and never mind if it’s achieved coercively. HOPE probationers had “statistically significantly lower odds of a positive drug test.”

read … The Influential HOPE Probation Program Is Badly Misnamed

Hawaii is the ‘most hostile health environment to practice in,’ physician says

SoR: … A compounded tax policy, low reimbursement rates, and more are straining Hawaii’s health care workforce to the point where facilities, particularly on neighboring islands, are beginning to shut down. These gaps in care are contributing to otherwise preventable health disparities in Hawaii.

State of Reform spoke with Dr. Scott Grosskreutz, a Hilo-based physician, on the perfect storm of conditions that make Hawaii the most “hostile health environment to practice in.”

Access to a specialist is difficult for people living on neighboring islands due to traveling costs. Grosskreutz estimated a person would spend $1,000 on average to fly to a specialist’s office in Oahu.

Access to providers on Hawaii’s neighboring islands is also difficult. According to a 2021 Nursing Education study, three of Hawaii’s five counties—Kauai, Maui and Hawaii—are among the top 15 counties in the nation with the highest primary health care worker shortages. …

It costs nearly double the national average to live in Hawaii, according to a 2021 WalletHub study. Advocates estimate a family of four would need an average annual income of over $90,000 to afford basic necessities. Social determinants of health, such as housing and child care costs, are some of the most significant cost-hikers. Grosskreutz said current provider reimbursement rates don’t account for the high cost of living.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2022 final rule for provider reimbursement. Due to the expiration of certain 2021 payment increases and other cuts across the board, rates could decrease as much as 9.75%.

On top of that, Hawaii’s general excise tax (GET) translates into higher costs for providers, particularly for Medicaid and Medicare services. Grosskreutz said:

“With Medicare and Medicaid patients, often the margins on these patients are exceedingly thin.

When the state comes in and says, ‘We’re going to have a 4.5% general excise tax on your gross income,’ the margins are so thin, that actually translates into a 15-20% tax on the average family practice.” ….

Grosskreutz and other workforce advocates have highlighted the workforce crisis for years. Some solutions include legislation. A bill that would exempt health care providers from the GET passed the Senate last year, and may have passed the House if not for a shortened session during the pandemic.

Advocates are also urging the state’s congressional delegation to follow Alaska’s Medicare reimbursement model, which accounts for providing care for patients in remote locations.

To support possible legislation, the Hawaii Physician Shortage Crisis Task Force is working to survey Big Island providers, residents, and other health care stakeholders to create a reliable database around the workforce shortage. Grosskreutz said the task force plans to replicate the survey on the other islands as well. …

read … Hawaii is the ‘most hostile health environment to practice in,’ physician says 

Hickam Water System Fuel Connected to Water Well Beneath Red Hill Tanks?

SA: … The Navy on Sunday quietly shut down its Red Hill shaft, which pulls water from the aquifer below, as military families around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam began to call in complaints about a fuel or chemical smell coming from their tap water.

The Red Hill well is just 3,000 feet makai of the Navy’s troubled Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility, which contains 20 massive underground fuel tanks. A history of leaks from the World War II-era facility has raised fears in recent years that fuel will contaminate the aquifer, polluting not just the Navy’s water supply system, but a major source of drinking water for southern Oahu.

A spokeswoman for the Navy told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Tuesday that the Red Hill shaft was shut down out of an “abundance of caution.”

But Ernie Lau, manager and chief engineer of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which is tasked with keeping Oahu’s drinking water safe, said it raises red flags.

“That causes more questions for us because we have been concerned about the risk of the Red Hill fuel facility to the aquifer, to water resources in that area, for seven, going on eight years now,” said Lau. “If they think the Red Hill shaft is the source of the problem, then we want to understand why. Does it pose a risk potentially to our Board of Water Supply sources around that area?” ….

SA: Hawaii’s congressional delegation asks Navy to respond to fuel odors in water system

SA: Pacific Fleet brass launches probe into Red Hill spills

Big Q: How concerning is it that chemical odors in the water are being reported in the Pearl Harbor-Hickam area?

read … Navy cuts access to aquifer at Red Hill

Hawaii State Representative's DUI Trial Set for Next Week

AP: … State Rep. Sharon Har has pleaded not guilty to one count of driving under the influence and one count of driving without vehicle insurance. Her trial is due to begin on Monday.

The Democrat represents Kapolei and Makakilo in the state House. She also works as an attorney. She was first elected to the Legislature in 2006.

The officer who pulled Har over said saw her driving the wrong way down Beretania Street after 10 p.m. on Feb. 22….

Background: Rep Har DUI Arrest: Smelled of Alcohol, Yelled 'Black Lives Matter'

read … Hawaii State Representative's DUI Trial Set for Next Week

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