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Monday, May 9, 2022
May 9, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:02 PM :: 1684 Views

Hawaii 2nd Worst State for Police Officers

Kahele Refusing to resign Congress so he can Illegally Use Federal Money for Gubernatorial Campaign?

CB: … Kahele had $456,000 in cash on hand in his congressional campaign account, according to his latest Federal Election Commission filings that run through March 31, but state law prohibits him from transferring those funds to his gubernatorial campaign account.

While he could reimburse his congressional backers and ask them to donate to his state campaign, many of those donors likely would not do so because their interests are rooted in federal policy.

Much of Kahele’s money came from the very special interests he now decries.

Federal records show Kahele has raised nearly $300,000 in the 2022 election cycle from political action committees representing a diverse range of interests, from big name defense contractors, such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, to the Air Line Pilots Association union that he’s a part of and Hawaiian Airlines, who he still works for as a part time pilot.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31 alone, Kahele pulled in thousands of dollars in contributions from donors representing corporations and other large businesses, including the Pasha Group and Carnival Cruise Line. He also took money from lobbyists.

While in the state Senate he accepted donations from a major tobacco company, Outrigger Enterprises and some of the largest labor unions in the state, including the Hawaii carpenters union that has a reputation for flexing its political muscle in local campaigns, particularly through its associated super PACs.

Kahele counted lobbyists and business owners among his donors while in state office, including Dennis Mitsunaga, a well-known engineering consultant now caught up in a federal corruption investigation into former prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, and Milton Choy, the head of a wastewater company at the center of a major bribery scandal that resulted in federal convictions this year for two Hawaii lawmakers….

In order to receive public funds, a candidate must raise a minimum of $100,000 from individual donors giving $100 or less. The Campaign Spending Commission will match those donations dollar for dollar up to $208,117 per election for a total of $416,234….

Kahele announced he was running for governor at the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island in Hilo, an organization he recently secured $1 million for via a congressional earmark. During a speech lasting more than 15 minutes Kahele did not explain his sudden decision to give up on Congress or take questions from the media.

In a text message to a Civil Beat reporter, Kahele said he will not resign from Congress while campaigning for governor. That allows him to continue to collect his $174,000 annual salary through the end of his term as well as use his federal office money for expenses.

For much of the year, Kahele has avoided Washington and instead been traveling the islands meeting with constituents and community groups while at the same time gauging interest in his gubernatorial campaign.

Moore said Kahele will have to be “extremely careful” if he continues to use his congressional funds to bounce around the state on official business so that he doesn’t run afoul of House ethics rules that prohibit using those dollars for campaign purposes.

Holding on to his seat will also likely open him up to attacks from his opponents, Moore said, not only about abandoning his work in Washington, but also for using his position as a U.S. representative to bolster his campaign under the guise of working for his district….

read … Kai Kahele Could Have Trouble Financing His Run For Governor

“Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”

ILind: … the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In that case, I have to conclude that Kahele as governor would be as aloof and secretive as, well, as he has been as a member of Congress.

And in terms of past behavior, the public campaign statement issued on his behalf, which states his opposition to several practices, is startlingly at odds with his past behavior as a candidate and public official.

—Ban on fundraisers during the legislative session. During two terms as a legislator, Senator Kahele made full use of session fundraisers, according to campaign records. During his first session in 2016, he held two fundraisers while the legislature was in session, one in Wailuku and another at the Mandalay Restaurant downtown, a favorite spot for meeting and greeting lobbyists. In 2017, two more session fundraisers, the only fundraisers he held during the year. And ditto in 2018, with his only two fundraisers scheduled during the session.

-Prohibiting union-to-candidate contributions. Again, Kahele’s record shows absolutely no prior leaning in this direction, making his campaign rhetoric seem hollow.

You can look up his record of campaign contributions at the Campaign Spending Commission website. I’m traveling and don’t have access to my own version of the contribution data, but it appears that Kahele’s top 15 campaign contributors during his years as a legislator included ten unions, three large corporations, a hotel company, and a political consultant/lobbyist….

read … “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”

Name change resolution shelved: Legislation sought to re-designate Captain Cook as Ka‘awaloa

HTH: … Introduced by Rep. Jeanne Kapela (D-Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, and Kailua-Kona) and others, HCR27, would not have had the force and effect of law, but rather it would have stated the official position of the Legislature.

The proposal cleared the House, but was deferred by the first of two committee assignments in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs deferred the measure “indefinitely.”

read … Name change resolution shelved: Legislation sought to re-designate Captain Cook as Ka‘awaloa

Need to catch up urgent for students

SA Editorial: … To help with pandemic-related needs, $639.5 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds has been allotted to Hawaii’s public schools.

The largest share of this money, a third and final ESSER III allotment of $412.4 million, should be expected to flow to students for remedial education and counseling.

However, as Star-Advertiser writer Esme Infante reported on Tuesday, only “a sliver” of the ESSER III funding has been doled out.

To underscore the urgency, ESSER funding comes with use-it-or-lose-it deadlines. What Hawaii schools have not spent of the $412.5 million in ESSER III allocation runs out in September 2024.

Educators are well aware of the learning losses facing a majority of the islands’ 171,000 public school students. This year, 52.9% of elementary students and 61.3% of middle school students tested one grade or more below their grade level in English. In math, 60.5% of elementary students and 62.3% of middle school students tested one grade or more below their grade level….

Big Q: How well is the Department of Education rolling out programs to help students catch up, post-pandemic?

read … Need to catch up urgent for students

‘Green’ Energy Plan: A new oil-fired power plant for Maui, Just like the new oil-fired plants built on Oahu

CB: … HECO is formulating a series of contingency plans to keep Maui’s electricity grid powered in the event that the four Maalaea engines, which the utility had planned to run into the 2030s, can no longer operate.

(Reality: Non baseload power sources like wind and solar just don’t work.  They can never supply a grid.  The are only good as an excuse for selling lots of batteries.)

On the table is a proposal to delay the planned 2024 shutdown of the oil-fired Kahului Power Plant until 2027, a concept unpopular with environmentalists. The utility is also exploring what it would take to speed up the construction of a handful of new renewable energy projects and a plan to build a traditional-style generator that could be powered by either conventional fossil fuels or biofuel to strengthen the power grid when sun and wind-powered sources fall short….

Reality:

read … Hawaiian Electric May Have To Build A New Oil-Fired Power Plant On Maui

Honolulu CIP Spending Political, Lacks Transparency

CB: … The city’s funding of the CIP is overly complex and ambiguous. Very few really understand how it all works.

If a council CIP project actually makes it into the final bill, it is a minuscule step. Whether a council project gets funded or carries forward in the six-year program is a game of chance.

As a result, communities without leverage or an advocate can go for extended periods without substantial CIP investment beyond the basics, while other areas can see fixed roads and greater park investments regularly. Lacking a policy outlining implementation and funding obligations, it is hard for the council to catch arbitrary projects, track money, and determine whether CIP funding is equitable across council districts.

To deal with these deficiencies, the City Council can work to develop a comprehensive policy to strengthen the city’s CIP. For starters, annually, the council can simply request that the mayor seek neighborhood board action on proposed CIP projects.

Requiring CIP projects to clearly meet both Public Infrastructure Maps requirements and development plan objectives can be accomplished today without any further legislation. A simple resolution can outline how and when Council CIP projects are carried forward in the six-year CIP.

Requiring by ordinance a public CIP digital database will increase project status and program transparency. It is also time to abandon the casual approach to billions in public funding and instead create a deliberate CIP implementation strategy and schedule. This is a big task, but important.

A good example of what is achievable are metropolitan planning agencies. To meet federal funding requirements, these agencies regularly adopt work priorities and financing plans to guide state and city transportation projects.

Finally, all council districts deserve a fair share of CIP funding. Adopting a CIP funding baseline for each district, beyond core services, will increase funding parity across all districts. The city’s grant-in-aid program is a good example from which to work….

read … Honolulu's Capital Improvement Program Is A Valuable Tool

Make Believe: Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead To Broader Government Reform?

CB: … The charges spurred (pretend) internal investigations in both the House and Senate into the voting records of Cullen and English. However, (As intended,) those investigations did not yield any new findings that could raise additional suspicion of the former lawmakers’ past conduct, legislators said (without snickering).

Criminal charges against Cullen and English brought by federal authorities also led to the creation of a group to (pretend to) address government conduct. Now, lawmakers, and many in the public, will (pretend to) be looking to this new Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct for proposals on how to (pretend to) tighten up ethics laws and increase government transparency ahead of the 2023 legislative session, which opens in January….

In March, the commission recommended that the Legislature approve 14 bills aimed at increasing oversight of money in politics and beefing up ethics rules.

Seven of those measures focusing on the areas of campaign finance, government records and ethics cleared the Legislature before the 2022 session ended Thursday. Those include bills that would allow the Campaign Spending Commission to levy fines against rule violators in addition to pursuing criminal charges, ban lawmakers from holding fundraisers while in session, limit how much money the government can charge its citizens for public records, require government boards to archive video and audio recordings of meetings and require state employees and legislators to attend ethics training.

An eighth proposal to beef up the state Attorney General’s office with new units to investigate corruption and sex trafficking did not pass, (of course). However lawmakers did include funding for 13 new deputy attorneys general positions “focusing on areas including human trafficking abatement, public safety, criminal justice, and legislation,” according to a press release on the state budget bill (which did not mention the need to arrest more politicians).

Other measures that fell short include those to raise fines for super PACs in the state, require state boards to make meeting materials available within 48 hours of a public meeting, clarify rules around gifts to government officials and require political candidates to file advertising disclosures again.

And although the Legislature approved Senate Bill 555, the ban on in-session fundraisers, lawmakers stopped short of taking up the commission’s recommendation to ban the receipt of any campaign contributions during session (what a surprise)….

Barbara Marumoto … said the focus should be on beefing up resources for state investigators so they can carry out investigations on public officials and other state employees…. (but that would achieve actual results, hence the disinterest.)

As Explained: Corruption Reforms: What They Left Out

As Explained: SB555: So-Called ‘Ban’ on Fundraisers during Session has Gigantic Loophole

read … Will Former Lawmakers’ Bribery Charges Lead To Broader Government Reform?

Charges dropped in Fort Street Mall attack that left man in critical condition

KITV: … Witnesses say the man attacked the 57-year-old victim with a water flask and attempted to flee the Fort Street Mall area on a bicycle before Honolulu police vehicles converged on the suspect two blocks away.

The 32-year-old man, Armin Baertschi, Jr., was caught on Alakea Street and arrested for attempted murder, modification of probation and several outstanding warrants.

On May 2, before the incident, Baertschi's probation officer filed a motion to modify his probation after failing to submit a drug test in April. This comes after Baertschi missed or refused eight urine analysis tests since April 2021.

The terms of his probation order require Baertschi to submit a drug test within 30 minutes at the direction of his officer. He is also to report to his probation officer, which he failed to do in April.

Baertschi was on a four-year HOPE probation order after being found guilty of drug charges in 2019.

He has a lengthy criminal record that includes several fourth-degree thefts, criminal trespassing, and promoting dangerous drugs….

read … Charges dropped in Fort Street Mall attack that left man in critical condition

Coalition aims to bring crime reduction programs to Waikiki--Calls for Veto of Bail Reform Bill

SA: … Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, told other members of the coalition that criminal accountability remains a major concern, and obtained their support in seeking a veto from Gov. David Ige for House Bill 1567, which eliminates the use of monetary bail for certain offenses. “When there are less and less consequences, criminals aren’t scared, so we’ll see them over and over again,” she said.

Herter, who wasn’t among those invited to the briefing, said he’s also extremely concerned about accountability.

Honolulu police arrested Adrian Gerard Matias, 23, on April 13 for suspicion of second-degree assault in Herter’s brutal beating. Matias was in the Oahu Community Corrections Center until April 25, when a judge granted a motion from the city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney to dismiss the case without prejudice, which means charges may be refiled….

>> Arrests in Waikiki, which numbered 814 from Jan. 1 to Tuesday, are expected to hit 2,400 by year’s end, the most since 2018, when there were 2,638….

read … Coalition aims to bring crime reduction programs to Waikiki

Owner of home that fell onto beach could face big fine

SA: …The owner of a North Shore property is facing hundreds of dollars in daily fines after his house collapsed onto the beach at Rocky Point in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 as heavy surf pounded the shoreline. The owner, with the help of a contractor, pulled the home off the beach and stacked it atop pallets next to the lot’s main house, where it has awkwardly remained for weeks.

The work was done without the required permits, according to Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting, which says that the house at 59-181-H Ke Nui Road needs to be removed within the next month and related repairs stopped, or the owner could be fined as much as $300 a day on top of an initial fine of up to $1,150.

“We initially allowed the owner to recover the structure from the beach because of the hazards it presented, not only to the public, but also to the environment,” according to a statement from DPP. “But that was with the understanding that the owner would take proper actions to ensure that the structure complied with all building and land use codes.”…

Francis Guerrero, who lives in Honolulu, told the Star-Advertiser that his mother had purchased the house in 1946 when he was a young boy. He said he had not seen the notices of violation and declined to discuss his plans for the house.

Guerrero said that for dec­ades the sand in front of his North Shore property has gone away in the winter and come back in the summer. “I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal about the sand going away,” he said. Guerrero said the government should be helping beachfront property owners save their homes, not fining them.

“The movement of sand is an annual thing. It’s not new. It’s not special,” he said….

read … Owner of home that fell onto beach could face big fine

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