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Saturday, May 14, 2022
May 14, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:15 PM :: 2370 Views

Honolulu Rail: $9.9 Billion to Go Nowhere

After Bribery Convictions, Legislators Tout Ethics Reforms 

Auditor: City Still Locked in to Expensive Recycling Contracts

371 Candidates Pull Papers

Kaneshiro Indictment Coming Soon? -- Former city prosecutor’s top assistants return to testify

HNN: … Federal prosecutors appear to be re-focusing their efforts to charge Honolulu’s former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro as part of a sprawling public corruption probe.

Some of his top advisors went back to testify before the grand jury this month, years after their first appearances.

Among them: Roger Lau, who was Kaneshiro’s special assistant ― a position created for him….

The last time HNN’s cameras caught him leaving the grand jury room was in 2018.

Also making a repeat visit this month: Carol Nakamura, who was Kaneshiro’s executive assistant. She was last filmed leaving in 2017.

Legal expert Victor Bakke said he believes the special prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, is bringing back witnesses to clarify information and “put the final touches on the indictment.”…

Both Bakke and Silvert think the statute of limitations is coming up to charge Kaneshiro with crimes. Bakke said it is usually five years from when the government realizes a crime is committed….

read … Former city prosecutor’s top assistants return to testify in public corruption probe

Hawaii Republicans plummet in House but appear steady on City Council

SA: … Republican representation in the state House of Representatives has dropped to the lowest level that veteran Republican Rep. Gene Ward has ever seen, while the City Council could maintain its conservative numbers along with a self-described “conservative-leaning” mayor.

Two out of four House Republicans ended the legislative session this month by joining nine other representatives who announced they will not seek reelection. Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) is running for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Val Okimoto (R, Mililani- Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) is running for the nonpartisan City Council….

The number of House Republicans had increased to just below 20 when former state Rep. Lynn Finnegan was elected in 2000 and served until 2010, a period that saw the election in 2002 of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who served two terms.

Finnegan now chairs the Republican Party of Hawaii, which has scheduled its convention for today at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

She suspects that Republican representation in the House began falling off when Republican attention was focused on getting Lingle elected and then reelected….

(Still blaming Lingle 12 years later!  Hilarious.)

Not being identified as a Republican on the Council will help her be effective, Okimoto told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“I think that having this nonpartisan level and nonpartisan platform and position is to me the best way to address the needs of the people in our communities,” she said. “Partisan labels definitely can and have been a distraction, or a hindrance or obstacle. … People assume that because I am right now a Republican, that I’m only going to vote a certain way. And I think that they’ll learn quickly, if they haven’t, you know, notice that I’m not just going to be a rubber stamp either way.”…

“That ‘R’ is the kiss of death in Hawaii politics, but people with conservative views can have success,” Moore said. “It’s that brand, rather than conservative ideology, that voters reject.”…  

HNN: GOP introduces candidates for 2022 election season at state convention

read … Hawaii Republicans plummet in House but appear steady on City Council

Ranked-Choice Voting Designed to Ensure that Republicans Don’t Get Elected

SA: … In a special election for a U.S. House seat in 2010, Hawaii voters were confronted with a list of 14 candidates. More than 170,000 votes were cast. But in this winner-take-all race, the victor was Republican Charles Djou, with 67,610 votes, or 39%. The two runners-up, Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case, together collected just over 100,000 votes.

Again that same year, 14 candidates vied in a special election for a vacant seat on the Honolulu City Council. Tom Berg, with 2,326 votes, won a race in which more than 12,000 votes were cast.

Were these election results fair? Yes. Did they reflect what a majority of voters really wanted? Probably not. In subsequent regular elections, both Djou and Berg lost their bids to keep their seats.

Such results are the impetus behind Senate Bill 2162, which would introduce ranked-choice voting (RCV) to certain Hawaii special elections beginning in 2023. RCV allows voters to rank the candidates by preference, the goal being to ensure that in a race with multiple candidates, the one with the majority of votes — not just a plurality — wins the race….

read … Editorial: A new way to vote

Coming up short on ethics

SA Editorial: … Jolted by a February corruption scandal involving two of their own, state legislators were poised to take a big swing at restoring the public’s trust in politicians and the political process. But instead of a home run, which initially looked possible, runners were left on base.

A disappointing example was Senate Bill 555, intended to stop political fundraising during legislative sessions, a blatant “pay to play” practice that should have been banned long ago. While legislators did pass a version of the bill to ban fundraising events for state and county officials during legislative session, they failed to prohibit the asking for, or accepting of, political contributions during session. The weakened bill doesn’t quash the possibility, let alone the appearance, of quid pro quo between donors and legislators during active lawmaking.

A stronger measure that would have outlawed any legislator fundraising during the annual 60-day session was among more than a dozen supported by the new Commission to Increase Standards of Conduct. That entity was created by legislators in February after then-Rep. Ty Cullen and former Sen. Kalani English were charged with taking cash and other bribes to advance or influence public-policy legislation. Both have pleaded guilty, and will be sentenced in July.

In the coming months, the commission will hold public meetings to assess existing state laws and rules relating to ethical conduct of public officers and employees, then deliver a final report, including proposed legislation, by Dec. 1 to the Legislature.….

(The purpose of this exercise is to dissipate reform energy ensuring nothing substantial is changed.)

Reality: Corruption Reforms: What They Left Out

read … Coming up short on ethics

State shows ‘disturbing’ fuel contamination plume maps from Red Hill spills

HNN: … For the first time, the public is seeing Department of Health maps of the plume of petroleum contamination based on Navy data. It shows the plume before last year’s fuel spills, during the height of the last year’s spill and what it looks like today …. 

read … State shows ‘disturbing’ fuel contamination plume maps from Red Hill spills

Court ruling over 2nd amendment rights in California could impact Hawaii gun laws

HNN: … A court ruling on a California gun law could lead to a legal challenge of Hawaii’s laws.

A U.S. Appeals Court states California’s law that bans the sale of semi-automatic weapons to adults under the age of 21 violates the right to bear arms.

Hawaii’s law is even more stringent as it requires people to be at least 21 years old in order to purchase any type of firearm….

If the ruling stands, anyone 18 and older will be able to buy semi-automatic weapons in California.

Many expect Hawaii will follow….

read … Court ruling over 2nd amendment rights in California could impact Hawaii gun laws

How does a Criminal end up out on the street 2 years into a so-called 20 year sentence?

HNN: … The suspect accused of holding an elderly man at gunpoint inside his Pauoa home on Thursday was already scheduled to serve 20 years in prison.

Court documents (Case#1CPC-20-0000470) show a judge (Judge Fa`auuga To`oto`o) recently (Feb 16, 2022) granted the suspect supervised release for drug treatment.

Reyn Logston was supposed to have been at a court-ordered drug treatment program at Habilitat after he admitted to brutally beating a man and throwing him into the trunk of his car in 2020.

But records show he disappeared from the treatment facility last week.

About 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Logston and at least one other suspect allegedly broke into a home in the 1900 block of Pacific Heights Road and held an 88-year-old man at gunpoint while they tried unsuccessfully to crack into a safe. A few hours later, police caught Logston in Waipahu.

He was arrested on a $500,000 warrant.

According to court records, that warrant is related to the carjacking and kidnapping case back in 2020.

Records show the victim was loading groceries into his car at the Kapolei Foodland when Logston and another suspect forced him in the trunk.…

Records show Logston’s criminal history dates back nearly a decade and includes felony burglary and theft convictions as well as probation violations.

In February, a judge granted the 27-year-old supervised release to a drug treatment program following his guilty plea in the carjacking case….

read … Felon scheduled to spend 20 years behind bars suspected in home invasion

More delays to move patients into new State Hospital facility

HNN: … After sitting empty for more than a year after it was built, the Hawaii State Hospital’s $160 million psychiatric ward is still largely unused. Officials said the facility will not be fully occupied until the end of June.

Officials with the State Hospital were grilled by lawmakers in April and were astounded that patients were still not moved to the new building. But the lawmakers were reassured the patients would start moving in phases within a couple of weeks and that the facility would be fully occupied by May.

According to officials, so far 34 patients have moved in….

State Department of Health officials said like a lot of other people, they’re dealing with supply chain issues and are having a hard time getting supplies. But they said contractors have assured them that everything will be fixed by the end of May.

“So we should be ready to move in another 72 or 80 patients to not overwhelm the building and the staff and patients,” said Dr. Run Heidelberg, State Hospital Administrator.

Heidelberg added that everyone else that needs to be moved into the new facility will be there by the end of June. There are currently 242 patients at the State Hospital and the maximum capacity is supposed to be 200. Yamane is concerned that the delay combined with the overcrowding could lead to more problems….

read … More delays to move patients into new State Hospital facility

DOE: Hawaii teacher accused of ‘serious misconduct’ is cleared to return to work

HNN: … Officials said Friday that the allegations against the male employee at Solomon Elementary were not substantiated.

The school at Schofield Barracks sent a letter to parents on Thursday about the claims.

In the letter, Principal Thomas Swan also called the allegations inaccurate….

However, during an investigation the teacher was placed on leave.

In a confusing twist, just a few hours after the letter was posted on the school’s social media, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii posted its own Facebook message, saying it became aware of the allegations Thursday and contacted the state Department of Education.

The Army said the employee would not be returning to work this school year….

read … DOE: Hawaii teacher accused of ‘serious misconduct’ is cleared to return to work

Maui Council Tinkers with Property Tax Rates

MN: … Residents in owner-occupied homes will mostly see lower rates than they’re currently paying, but owners who don’t live in their homes, such as those who live off island and have a second home on Maui, will see higher rates for fiscal year 2023, which begins July 1.

Apartment rates were also cut, while a new category was created for property owners with long-term rentals.

Rates for hotels, resorts and time shares remain the same, although those in the tourism industry say they will pay more with higher valuations. The new rates also include an increase for all short-term rental categories.

The vote was 6-0 in favor, with Council Members Mike Molina, Kelly King and Shane Sinenci absent and excused….

read … New property tax rates approved with cuts for some homeowners

50 homeless camps cleaned up, removed from Diamond Head area

KITV: … The department said it relocated about 50 people located on seven ridges, the Bunker, and at Fort Ruger between May 9 and May13. All locations were cleared by Thursday, May 12, but crews went back out on Friday to make sure no one had returned, DLNR said.

Officials say this was the largest number of homeless camps they have cleaned up and said most of the people were located on the ridges.

According to DLNR, the cleanups are regularly done every six months at Diamond Head, the Kapaa Quarry Road area, and in Sand Island State Park, among other locations….

read … 50 homeless camps cleaned up, removed from Diamond Head area

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