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Wednesday, January 12, 2022
January 12, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 2380 Views

How Many Legislators Were Partying With Sharon Har During COVID Shutdown?

Money and Power: HSTA Priorities for 2022 Legislature

DoH Reduces School Quarantine Requirements, HSTA Complains

DOH/CDC health survey expanded to include all Navy water system users

Kealoha Payoff Illegal: Top Caldwell Administration Officials Arrested by FBI

CB: … Three former high-level Honolulu officials are facing federal conspiracy charges after they allegedly misused city money to give a $250,000 payout to now-disgraced police chief Louis Kealoha, according to an indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

The defendants, former corporation counsel Donna Leong, former Honolulu Police Commission chair Max Sword and former managing director Roy Amemiya, all turned themselves in to the FBI Tuesday morning, Hawaii News Now first reported.

As the former police chief was under federal investigation himself in 2016, the city officials named in the indictment are alleged to have fraudulently secured the money for his retirement payment by using funds that were not approved for that use by the Honolulu City Council.

Leong is further accused of lying to federal agents when she was questioned about the transaction in November 2017.

The defendants’ arraignment and plea hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. before federal Magistrate Judge Rom Trader….

read … Three Former Honolulu Officials Charged With Conspiracy For Kealoha Payout

‘The judge got it wrong’: City prosecutor rails against lawmaker’s acquittal in DUI case

KITV: … In the press conference, Alm shared what he called “uncontroverted evidence” from the trial, including police bodycam footage and even witness testimony from the bar Har was patronizing before the incident.

Alm said Har was drinking at the AnyPlace Cocktail lounge beforehand and was seen by staff and patrons drinking “four 12-ounce alcoholic beverages.” He also shared Google maps images showing the distance Har traveled after leaving the AnyPlace Cocktail Lounge to where she was eventually pulled over.

According to Alm, police officers saw Har driving down the wrong way on Beretania Street where they say she almost hit a person riding a moped before she was pulled over….

“Judge Hartley’s decision to grant the defense’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal did not follow the appropriate standard. Inconsistencies in a police officer’s testimony must be resolved in a light most favorable to the Department. In addition, the lack of blood alcohol content evidence should not have factored in to the judge’s decision at all, especially given that Har refused to take a breath or blood test. The Department believes that the evidence presented in this case was more than enough to overcome the defense’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal,” Alm wrote in a press release following the news conference….

read … ‘The judge got it wrong’: City prosecutor rails against lawmaker’s acquittal in DUI case

Civil Beat Law Center intervenes again opposing unnecessary secrecy in Miske case

ILind:: … A local nonprofit law firm has objected to a request by attorneys representing accused racketeering gang leader Michael J. Miske, Jr. to seal 36 proposed exhibits filed in support of their motion to compel access to unredacted versions of evidence produced through discovery in the ongoing criminal case.

R. Brian Black, executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, filed a 13-page motion last week asking the court to deny the motion to seal the exhibits, arguing Miske’s attorneys had not provided sufficient factual basis to overcome the overriding public interest in disclosure.

In a declaration previously filed in Honolulu’s US District Court, Miske’s co-counsel, Lynn Panagakos, described the proposed exhibits as “examples of missing and unjustifiably redacted discovery” turned over by the government.

“This array of examples is necessary to illustrate the enormity of the discovery defects that currently plague this case,” Panagakos said.

The exhibits in dispute, which are among more than 700,000 pages of documents provided to attorneys for Miske and other defendants during the process of discovery, are presently covered by a blanket protective order issued by Mansfield on August 12, 2020.

It is unclear whether Miske’s attorney have requested to file the exhibits under seal in order to comply with the protective order, or whether they are asserting their own justification independent of that order….

PDF: Motion

read … Civil Beat Law Center intervenes again opposing unnecessary secrecy in Miske case

Reality: As it pledges to empty fuel tanks, Navy says cost of crisis now tops $250M

HNN: …Navy officials on Tuesday also revealed just how costly the crisis has been so far, saying that the price tag has already exceeded $250 million. It’s unclear how much it will cost to empty the tanks.

“In terms of have we budgeted for the cost of this event? Clearly, we have not,” Converse said….

The Navy must deliver a plan to the state to drain millions of gallons of fuel from its Red Hill tank farm in 23 days and then it has 30 days to start defueling….

Congress members say they’re also aware of of complaints by several anonymous Red Hill employees about improper operations and faulty equipment and that these red flags were raised before the May and November 2021 leaks. It’s being investigated by the Pentagon’s Inspector General.

“The committee is now aware there were complaints and warnings filed before the leak was finally addressed,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier of California….

“I don’t know ma’am,” said Rear Admiral Peter Stamatopoulos, Commander, Navy Supply Command and 49th Chief of Supply Corps.

“I know is that there is an investigation and legal matter which is outside my field of view that involves employees of the Red Hill complex,” he added….

The order also requires the Navy to suspend operations at the Red Hill facility, install a drinking water treatment system at the Red Hill shaft — where fuel was detected — and take other corrective actions.

Under the order, the Navy could seek to fill the tanks with fuel again.

The Navy has argued the tanks are needed for the nation’s self-defense and said the crisis was caused by human error. They’ve also claimed the facility does not pose an imminent risk to the water supply.,…

The Navy’s own estimates are that chronic leaks from the Red Hill fuel tanks probably total over 5,000 gallons of fuel per year. Larger spills have caused bigger problems.

The military has traced the ongoing crisis to a spill in November. In the wake of the contamination, the Navy has embarked on a massive flushing and clean-up effort that is still ongoing….

In a contested case hearing last month over the order to empty the tanks, state health experts testified some of the corroding 80-year-old tanks have not been inspected in 20 to 40 years….

read …  As it pledges to empty fuel tanks, Navy says cost of crisis now tops $250M

Illusion: Elected officials advance bill pretending to propose city regulate Red Hill fuel farm

KITV: …  Honolulu City Council Bill 48, which proposes city officials manage the Navy's Red Hill fuel facility, cleared its second reading Tuesday. …

If passed, a city agency would take over supervision of the fuel facility.

(WRONG.  The County does not regulate the military/))

City managing director Michael Formby said the Blangiardi administration is leaning towards passing on power to the Board of Water Supply. …

"They need to make their kuleana pono by demonstrating that they are going to share the data quickly and timely and openly with us," Lau said.

A spokesperson from the Navy said the agency has had multiple briefings, conversations, and tours with local, state and federal leaders.

The Navy also meets with neighborhood boards and has ongoing collaborations with the DOH and EPA, and regularly posts information on its website and social media.

read … Elected officials advance bill proposing city regulate Red Hill fuel farm

Is The Hawaii Legislature Ready To Give Teachers Yet Another Raise Outside of Collective Bargaining?

CB: … With a rosier economic outlook, the state teachers union and other advocates are stepping up calls to boost teacher pay as Hawaii’s Legislature prepares to convene its annual session next week.

Gov. David Ige proposed restoring $100.2 million to the Department of Education’s base budget and adding $32.5 million to continue salary differentials to help recruit hard-to-staff teaching positions in his proposed supplemental budget.

Rep. Jeanne Kapela, vice chair of the House Education Committee, also plans to introduce two bills — one addressing so-called salary compression in which teachers are not paid according to years of experience and another proposing to remove the cap on salary classes so teachers are more incentivized to seek professional development.

“We are heading into session with a billion-dollar surplus, which makes a lot of us hopeful that we can pass legislation that supports teachers and our working families,” Kapela said….

DoE Guts Testing:
HSTA Raises since April, 2019:

Related: Money and Power: HSTA Priorities for 2022 Legislature 

read … Is The Hawaii Legislature Ready To Give Teachers A Raise?

Hanabusa Gravy Train: Honolulu Rail Board Members Signal Strong Satisfaction With Kahikina’s Job So Far

CB: One year into her tenure leading Honolulu’s struggling rail project, Lori Kahikina is getting high marks from the board members who oversee and evaluate her job performance. 

A new presentation posted to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation website lists a litany of accomplishments under Kahikina – and no criticisms – for her first year at the helm, in which she worked as the agency’s interim executive director.

“Beginning on Day 1 … (Kahikina) established (a) management style of being firm, fair, collaborative and decisive,” the HART slide presentation states. It further touts her decision to trim HART’s total staff nearly in half, as well as her planning and communication skills….

REALITY: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Honolulu Rail Board Members Signal Strong Satisfaction With Kahikina’s Job So Far

Bill 41: Neighborhoods need rentals of 30+ days

SA: … There is a push by the hotel lobby, some politicians and a few NIMBYs in wealthy neighborhoods such as Lanikai to increase the minimum stay requirement for rentals from one month to six months.

There are many instances when rentals of 30-plus days are needed in neighborhoods. With the rise in omicron, traveling nurses and other health-care providers need accommodations close to their hospitals. They should not have to commute from Waikiki and other resort areas for work.

There are digital nomads that have made Hawaii their home for a few months. These people should not have to pay sky-high hotel rates to stay in Waikiki. The Hawaii tourism industry lured these people here with the “Movers and Shakas” program dangling free air tickets and other incentives. Many digital workers who heeded the call found suitable and affordable accommodation in neighborhoods.

When tourism tanked, the hotel industry wanted the whole pie so they crafted and are now lobbying hard for Bill 41, which would eliminate rentals of less than 180 days in neighborhoods.

There are military personnel who often need accommodation for six to eight weeks while looking for permanent housing in Honolulu.

And there are visiting family members who want to stay close to their ohana. When our first son was born, many moons ago, my parents came to help. At the time, we lived in a studio apartment and did not have space for them. They rented a room from a retired couple down the street for about six weeks; it was affordable and convenient.

No one wants to live next to a home where tourists party all night and there is no homeowner in sight. Whole-house party rentals should be shut down. But why shut down a responsible homeowner who lives on site, provides parking and rents out a room to a digital worker, traveling nurse, family caregiver or even a snowbird here for a couple months? There has to be a balance when it comes to rentals in neighborhoods….

read … Column: Neighborhoods need rentals of 30+ days

The Maui Charter Commission Is Weighing 85 Changes To County Government

CB: …Later this month members of the public can comment on the proposed amendments, which if approved by voters would reform county elections, policing, zoning and more….

Background: 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist to Rewrite Maui County Charter?

read … The Maui Charter Commission Is Weighing 85 Changes To County Government

CNMI House Votes To Impeach Governor Torres

CB: … Articles of impeachment for the governor have been voted through to the Senate by the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The House voted in favor of six articles to impeach Republican Gov. Ralph Torres, relating to theft of utility services; theft; unlawful first and business class travel; corruption, for misuse of government resources; and two articles of neglect of duty, for negligence during crisis and contempt of legislature.

The House vote comes after a Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee probe found the governor’s spending of public funds unlawful. The JGO Committee alleged a misspending of funds relating to exorbitant travel charges, entertainment costs and personal expenses….

read … CNMI House Votes To Impeach Governor Torres

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