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Tuesday, April 12, 2022
April 12, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:45 PM :: 1851 Views

HB1823: Legislators Sneak Same Day Assisted Suicide

Audit: DHS Skipping Criminal Background Checks on Foster Parents

Reining in the State’s Emergency Powers; Why we Must Restore Checks and Balances

Tribal Consultation Bill Hits Alaska-Hawaii Snag 

State Judiciary at Work--Gambling, Drugs and Witness Tampering: Now Taxpayers to Pay for Ex-Cop’s Lawyer

HTH: … Former Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, now a private practice attorney, went public last week with her case against the county as she tried to clear the name of retired police captain Chadwick Fukui, whose charges in a 2017 case were dismissed by a judge.

Fukui was charged with obstructing government operations and two counts each of second-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence, in a case involving police officers allegedly tipping off Hilo arcade owners prior to a 2017 police gambling raid….

Brian Miller, a retired Hilo vice detective, was also charged in that case, in addition to charges he stole cocaine from a police evidence locker and further counts of intimidating a witness, retaliating against a witness, witness tampering, second-degree terroristic threatening and harassment.

Miller’s trial has been postponed nine times and is now set for Nov. 7, 2023.

On Wednesday, during the public testimony period of the council meeting, Kawauchi took note of Fukui’s request for $58,747 compensation for legal bills that was set for executive session at the end of the meeting.

She lamented the besmirching of what she called the good name of a dedicated county employee who worked both in the Hawaii Police Department and also the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for a total of 41 years.

(Translation: This is the State Judiciary’s joke version of the Kealoha case.)

But also important for Kawauchi were what she saw as serious conflicts of interest for Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy and Mayor Mitch Roth.

Lee Loy because her retired police detective husband, Ian Lee Loy, was the lead investigator in the police case and Roth because he was the county prosecutor when an ‘unlawful subpoena’ was used that resulted in a search warrant being suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree.

(This is state court: The ‘unlawful subpoena’ excuse is how Fukui was let off the hook.)

Council records show that the council, on an 8-0 vote with Lee Loy excused, concurred with corporation counsel’s recommendation in a closed executive session Wednesday. It’s not known what the recommendation was, as Deputy Corporation Counsel Lerisa Heroldt, representing the county in the claims, on Monday stated the recommendation was exempt from disclosure as it is an attorney-client communication….

REALITY: Police Corruption Scandals Revenge for Gambling Prosecutions?

read … The Mafia is Laughing at You and Making You Pay to Watch Them Do It

It’s down to 8 candidates for Honolulu police chief

SA: … The (secret) field of candidates to become Honolulu’s 12th police chief has been reduced to eight by out-of-state consultant PSI Services LLC.hired by the Honolulu Police Commission to select finalists.

Commission members are expected to select the next chief in June, and the names and resumes of the final four candidates will be shared with the panel and the public in May….

read … It’s down to 8 candidates for Honolulu police chief

Ige: BWS Could Quickly Eliminate Water Crisis by Repairing Wells

SA: … Oahu residents are facing mandatory restrictions on their water use, and developers could have to grapple with a moratorium on new construction as the hot, dry summer months approach — consequences of a reduction in water capacity due to 2021’s Red Hill emergency.

But Gov. David Ige on Monday said that this lost capacity could be made up if the Honolulu Board of Water Supply fixed its wells that have been down for repairs…

“One of the things we have expressed to the Board of Water Supply, they have about 15% of the wells that are currently down because of repairs,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” live­stream program. “If they were to focus on repairing that 15% of the wells, it would restore more than the water that we’ve lost due to this Red Hill situation.”…

Ige said fixing these wells “that are just down for equipment or maintenance malfunctions” would allow them to “get back into production right away.”…

The governor’s office said Ige’s information came from the state Commission on Water Resource Management, an agency under the state Department of Land and Natural Resources….

the BWS has been exploring the development of new water sources, which could (be slow walked to) take a number of years, and urging Oahu residents, government agencies and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10%.

Lau said the BWS also is expediting (goldbricking) the repair of its offline wells and equipment, but this too takes time.  (They just said ‘expediting’ takes time, LOL!)  The wells also need to be recertified by the state Department of Health, which can (be slow-walked to) take several months.

One of its oldest stations in Kalihi has been undergoing repairs since 2017 and has eight artesian wells and five pumps out of service, according to the BWS. Additionally, three wells and three pumps are down at its Kalauao station, and two pumps and two wells are down at Punanani….

(CLUE: It doesn’t take 5 years to fix a pump.)

SA: WATCH LIVE: Gov. David Ige joins the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s ‘Spotlight Hawaii’

read … Ige pushes Board of Water Supply to repair wells to boost water supply

Blangiardi, Kiaaina Illegally spending COVID-19 relief funds without Council Authorization

SA: … City officials are still trying to decide how to spend much of $386 million awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act. Complicating the matter is a disagreement between Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration and City Council members over who gets to make spending decisions, which, in turn, is giving rise to questions about transparency and public oversight….

Honolulu received the first of its two installments, $193 million, in June. The balance is expected to arrive this summer.

According to the City Charter, the Council must allocate funds before Honolulu Hale distributes funds. However, in the handling of ARPA allocations, Blangiardi’s administration is largely bypassing Council participation. The administration is dispersing the first tranche of ARPA funding based on pandemic- focused exemptions made in the city budget passed in 2020….

(CLUE: Bypassing council authority--just like the $250K Kealoha payoff.)

But Council Chair Tommy Waters has countered that the exemption was intended only for the CARES Act funding, due to the pressing December 2020 deadline — and that deadline pressure is not an issue for ARPA funding, which can be used until 2026.

So far, the city administration expended about $16 million in ARPA funds on community support during the omicron variant’s wave as well as economic recovery and modernizing city services. However, it has approved $69.8 million in ARPA spending….

Also, so far, ARPA spending decisions have been made through a nine-person committee created within the city administration. The committee includes department directors, Formby, Deputy Managing Director Krishna Jayaram, Managing Director Executive Assistant Andrew Malahoff, Council member Esther Kia‘aina and Hui Chen, a strategist for state and local fiscal recovery funds.

This committee is not an official one created by charter, ordinance or statute. Such committees are required by law to conduct public meetings or keep official records of their discussions. The committee’s unofficial status has raised red flags from Waters and Common Cause Hawaii, a nonprofit government watchdog group.

In a recent memo to Blangiardi, Waters contended that “the legal authority of the administration to unilaterally approve, encumber and expend these monies is questionable.” In the same letter he urged the administration to disband the committee…..

CB: Honolulu City Council Chair And Mayor Clash Over Federal Funds

read … Honolulu’s spending of COVID-19 relief funds questioned

SB514: Ige supports $300 taxpayer rebate plan

HTH: … Gov. David Ige on Monday said an agreement by lawmakers to triple his original rebate proposal to the state’s taxpayers and their dependents is “a great move for our community.”

He was referring to a tentative agreement reached last week by House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz to rebate $300 to taxpayers earning less than $100,000 a year and $100 to taxpayers making more than $100,000.

That could add up to a $1,200 rebate for a family of four….

Dela Cruz estimated the rebates would cost the state about $250 million.

Senate Bill 514, which unanimously passed the House Finance Committee with amendments on April 5, could be the measure used for the proposed rebates, and also for a deposit into the state’s rainy day fund….

read … Ige supports rebate plan: Proposal would give back $300 to most taxpayers

Senate mistakenly proposes $51 billion for community colleges

SA: … State senators must really like the University of Hawaii community college system — and not so much UH’s four-year campuses — because the latest budget proposal calls for giving the smaller campuses a whopping $51 billion for the next fiscal year.

That’s billion with a “b,” as in “$51,450,000,000” specifically for UH’s seven community colleges, according to the latest version of House Bill 1600, which moved out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Friday.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, committee chairman, said senators realized the amount was a mistake but could not fix it in time for a decking deadline of midnight Thursday….

“It should be $51 million, not $51 billion,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Knock off the last three zeroes.”

Dela Cruz said senators will consider a floor amendment today to fix the $51 billion figure, along with other items in HB 1600 that could not be corrected in time.

Curiously, the latest budget bill that passed out of the Ways and Means Committee has no money for UH’s three four-year universities at Manoa, Hilo and West Oahu….

read … Senate mistakenly proposes $51 billion for community colleges

A key tax credit for working class families is about to expire

HNN: … The Hawaii Earned Income Tax Credit is set to expire at the end of the year. A new bill proposes to extend the credit for another six years.

It also will allow Hawaii’s poorest families who don’t earn enough money to qualify for more benefits under the credit….

The bill next goes the Senate floor for a full vote….

RELATED: The Great Earned Income Tax Credit Hunt

read … A key tax credit for working class families is about to expire

Hawaii Review Board Recommends No Charges Against Police In 4 Deaths

CB: … The Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review Board said the officers were justified in their actions….

read … Hawaii Review Board Recommends No Charges Against Police In 4 Deaths

Brother of Kathrine Kealoha tied to illegal drug dealing in Day 5 of criminal trial

KITV: … The prosecution in the federal drug trafficking trial for the brother of former Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Keaoha is in the final stages of presenting its case.

On Monday, the prosecution called a key witness to the stand, Joshua Derego another close friend of Dr. Puana.

Derego testified that Puana helped him sell pain pills on the black market that Puana had prescribed to him….

Derego also told the court Puana told him he knew people Derego could sell the drugs to….

Derego said Puana took him to one buyer who paid $2,000 to $3,000 a month for his monthly supply of pain pills.

Derego testified that Puana took a $1,000 split for cash for 3-6 months…..

The prosecution is expected to finish with their witness in the next few days. One of those witness still expected is Puana's sister Kathrine Kealoha….

read … Brother of Kathrine Kealoha tied to illegal drug dealing in Day 5 of criminal trial

Hawaii reaches pandemic milestone -- no COVID-19 cases in the ICU for the first time

KITV: … Today marks the first time in almost two years there are zero COVID-19 patients in intensive care units statewide.

"The fact that the ICU numbers are going down despite having more freedoms, if you will, and less restrictions is really a good news," said Jim Ireland, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department. "Still a lot of tragedy that COVID brought, but the more we get behind us, the better I think really for everybody."

When health officials first began tracking COVID ICU admissions in August 2020, there were 40 patients in critical condition.

The state hit an ICU peak of more than 100 coronavirus patients during the Delta surge on Sept. 2, according to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii….

there are at least 19 people in Oahu hospitals with COVID.

"There's none at least today in danger of dying," Ireland added….

read … Hawaii reaches pandemic milestone -- no COVID-19 cases in the ICU for the first time

Biden Admin Finally Gets Around to Appointing COFA Negotiator

CB: … Along with Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the compact nations and their surrounding waters compose an area comparable to the size of all 48 contiguous U.S. states. Rising tensions between the U.S. and China as well as North Korea’s increasing pace of ballistic missile tests have underscored the value of U.S. control over this massive segment of the Pacific region.

But the United States hasn’t held any formal talks with any nation since 2020, when then-President Donald Trump’s administration made the relationships a priority in light of China’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Pacific nations.

Ambassador Joseph Yun formerly conducted negotiations with North Korea. Courtesy: State Department

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on March 29, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin criticized the Biden administration for the delay. He emphasized the degree to which the U.S. values its relationships with the Pacific nations, even as he repeatedly mispronounced Palau.

Despite the lag, Biden appears to be picking up the pace. Last month, he appointed Ambassador Joseph Yun as special presidential envoy for negotiations, a move that Hawaii’s congressional delegation has been urging the president to do since at least last summer….

read … Climate Change Looms Large In US Treaty Talks In The Pacific

Maui Voters Set To Vote On 11 Changes To County Government

CB: … The surviving amendments would require Maui County to operate as a bilingual government, absorb Kalaupapa into its jurisdiction and increase access to council meetings and public records. The proposals have one last hurdle to cross later this month before their fate falls to voters.

Among the most consequential proposals is an amendment that would split the Department of Housing and Human Concerns into two agencies and create a Housing Development Advisory Board to advise the county housing director. The amendment also seeks to require the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, a state agency, to establish a liaison within the county Housing Department.

Another sweeping proposal would establish a bilingual county government, which would mean that all official county notices would need to be issued in Hawaiian and English. It would also create a department of oiwi resources to manage Hawaiian cultural resources.

A reform geared at promoting transparency in law enforcement would require the police chief to inform the police commission, and provide a written report upon request, when the chief disagrees with the commission’s findings related to the conduct of the police department or its officers and employees….

read … Maui Voters Set To Vote On 11 Changes To County Government

Bill 38: City Outlaws Senior Class Photos on Beach

SA: … readers have asked similar questions not only about senior photos, but also family portraits, engagement pictures, baby photos and other outdoor photo shoots popular with Hawaii residents. Although weddings have gotten the most attention, all those other types of photo shoots are outlawed at the named locations, too, if they are commercial (paid) and unpermitted….

Film and television productions with permits are exempt from the law, which Mayor Rick Blan­giardi signed last week, after the Honolulu City Council approved Bill 38 on a 7-2 vote. Read the measure at 808ne.ws/bill38.

Some observers say the law will be tough to enforce, as the city’s jurisdiction does not extend seaward of the shoreline. Also, as noted, some photographers do have permits that predate the law.

read … Kokua Line: Does new law affect senior photo shoots?

Crime: Will Military Rule Waikiki ‘Off Limits’?

SA: … he and his girlfriend were assaulted by a group of people as they left Kelley O’Neil’s Bar &Grill with two other couples.

The 1:20 a.m. attack took place at the same corner where Marqus McNeil, 20, was fatally shot eight days earlier, putting Waikiki on high alert. A grand jury indicted Justice Kaio, 19, in connection with that case on charges of second-degree murder and firearm offenses….

“There have been stabbings, there have been people who have been shot, attempted murders, suspected peeping Toms,” he said. “Just looking at the (Honolulu Police Department) crime-mapping site, there are almost 100 violent crimes that have occurred in the 96815 ZIP code from January to April.”…

“If my friend had not called the police, I don’t think I would still be alive,” he said. “They shouted things like, ‘What are you doing on our block, haole?’ — and they didn’t stop beating me and kicking my head until the police arrived.”…

The pair said they consider the incident a hate crime and believe they were targeted because they are Caucasian and have military connections.

The scene of the assault is near a part of Waikiki the military had previously considered putting off limits in 2018 after three military members were stabbed, one fatally.

That step, which would have blocked some 10% of Oahu’s population from patronizing Waikiki, was avoided when Hannemann and other members of the Waikiki, law enforcement and tourism communities formed the public safety coalition that he is bringing together for a follow-up meeting….

(Translation: This story is about a possible 10% decline in tourism.)

read … Violent attack raises concern about crime in Waikiki

Nobody Wants Haiku Stairs Demolished

SA: … Honolulu’s mayor and City Council are increasing the Haiku Stairs demolition budget by a whopping 30% and the project has not even started.

It’s a bad start for a project in which a mere 180 people testified in favor of demolition last year, versus 3,600 people for saving the stairs. The City Council’s vice chairwoman, Esther Kia‘aina, was so flustered by the overwhelming opposition to her bill that she did not allow 1,000 residents with non-808 phone numbers to testify….

This year, the Haiku Stairs celebrate 80 years without a single accidental death. No court cases. No liability. No aerial rescues for hikers starting in Haiku Valley. The Haiku Stairs has a proven safety record. No invasive species due to hikers….

read … Costs balloon for Haiku Stairs’ dubious demolition

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