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Saturday, September 17, 2022
September 17, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:53 PM :: 1367 Views

Maui housing bill seriously flawed in July, and even more so now

SEC Fines Bank of Hawaii in ‘Pay to Play’ Scheme

Public Schools Lose 1.9% of Students--But Charter Schools Continue to Grow 

Victorino Orders Audit Of No-Bid Contracts Linked To Maui Bribery Case

CB: … The contracts that were the target of an FBI investigation were awarded under former Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration….Maui Mayor Mike Victorino has ordered an audit into all “no-bid” contracts awarded to companies controlled by Milton Choy, who is facing felony charges for allegedly bribing a former county official in exchange for more than $19 million in work between 2012 and 2018….

Victorino also took the opportunity to clarify that the events laid out by federal prosecutors Thursday — describing a scheme between Choy and former Environmental Management Director Stewart Stant to funnel contracts to Choy’s companies — occurred under a different administration.

Between 2012 and 2018, Choy gave Stant $2 million worth of bribes in exchange for upwards of $19 million in sole source contracts. Former Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa was in charge of the county for most of that time period.

Sole source contract awards to Choy’s company, H2O Process Systems, dropped off dramatically after 2018. The last sole source contract awarded to H2O Process Systems came in December 2021 for pump assembly parts for a Kihei pump station….

read … Victorino Orders Audit Of No-Bid Contracts Linked To Maui Bribery Case

High court decision that invalidated scores of felony charges relies on 1905 Hawaii law

HNN: … the Judiciary needs more grand juries. A lot more – and right away.

That’s because of a Supreme Court ruling last week that said all felonies except contempt of court must be charged by a grand jury, eliminating the option of holding a preliminary hearing and getting a judge to agree there is probable cause to go to trial.

Prosecutors have held thousands of felons through preliminary hearings in the 40 years since it was allowed by the state Constitution. City Prosecutor Steve Alm is scrambling to recharge at least 160 felony cases in danger of being dismissed if their cases are not heard by a grand jury soon. “Our no. 1 priority is making sure that violent and dangerous offenders are not released from jail as a result of the Obrero decision,” Alm said, in a statement released by his office….

The Obrero case decision was made by a three-justice majority of the state’s high court.

The three rejected 40 years of practice in their ruling, seizing on a failure by the Legislature in the 1980s to clarify the law….

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who is also the chief executive of the Judiciary branch, said through a spokesman that the department had an emergency meeting the day after the ruling was issued and decided it must respond by forming additional grand juries to take on the cases that had previously been set for trial by a judge at a preliminary hearing.

It’s not clear whether that emergency scenario played a role in Recktenwald’s thinking when he opposed the conclusions of the court majority. In his dissent, joined by Justice Paula Nakamura, he wrote, “The Majority’s novel interpretation of the constitution departs from 40 years of settled law and needlessly frustrates the framers’ intent.”…

In their majority opinion, the three justices didn’t dispute that the 40-year-old language in the Hawaii Constitution clearly gives prosecutors two options to charge felonies. But they argue that the legislature’s passage and the voters’ approval of the constitutional amendment for preliminary hearings was not enough.

They say that because the lawmakers neglected to rewrite a 1905 statute that required grand juries, the law on the books (though dated) essentially trumped the Constitution.

(Translation: We want to let lots and lots of criminals out of prison and create more work for our fellow lawyers.)

In his dissent opposing the majority, Recktenwald argued that the more than 100-year-old statute was not only obsolete, but that it was essentially repealed by the change to the constitution in 1982….

KHON: Prosecutors scrambling to stop release of suspects in violent crimes

read … High court decision that invalidated scores of felony charges relies on 1905 Hawaii law

Waianae leaders say law enforcement should target game room operators

SA: … Tiana Wilbur, Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board vice chair and Republican candidate for House District 45, said, “It’s so puzzling how this (gambling) equipment is coming into our state.” She said she would like the state to better control what is being shipped in.

Wilbur claimed the area has the highest homeless population on Oahu, in part because some homeless people have moved to Waianae from Chinatown and other areas where they are under pressure to disperse. “That’s why there’s a rise in crime and homelessness,” she said….

In the case of the Nanakuli game room robbery that occurred in the early morning hours of July 15, 2020, Wilson, who was identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a member of a gang known as Murder Inc. at the time, and Lorrin, his accomplice, entered the single-story residence on the makai side of Keaulana Avenue, one of two houses on a half-acre lot….

Two Waianae Coast community leaders say Wilson and Lorrin were minor crime figures and that law enforcement should crack down on the operators of illegal gambling establishments, which they say are proliferating in the area.

“Three are right around my house,” said Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board member Philip Ganaban, whose family has lived in Makaha for generations. “They’re here and they get robbed continuously. They get robbed by friends or people they know.”

Ganaban said that historically, Murder Inc. was “a bunch of notorious murderers from Waianae.”

“This is the new generation, people who were connected by family to these past individuals” and later split into two groups….

read …Waianae leaders say law enforcement should target game room operators

$25M Free COVID Money Comes to End for 2,400 Kauai Families

TGI: … Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaua‘i Federal Credit Union’s Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance Program has distributed more than $25 million in federal funds to 2,400 Kaua‘i households struggling to make ends meet. 

(That’s $10,400 each)

With additional Federal funding up in the air, the program is scaling back and limiting the pool of renters eligible for relief.

This November, the rental assistance cap will be lowered to $1,500 per month, down from $4,500.

And in December, the program will be limited to only include the most vulnerable populations — households facing imminent eviction, with combined income at or under 50% AMI ($39,900 for an individual and $57,000 for a family of four) kupuna over age 62, or domestic violence survivors….

read … Deflationary Move Will Cause DTs

City Council approves pay raises for Honolulu police officers

SA: … Honolulu police hope a 5% across-the-board increase in pay each year through 2024 will help attract and retain officers.

The starting pay for a metropolitan police officer will be $71,656, with new recruits beginning their training at the department’s Ke Kula Makai Training Academy earning $68,934. By fiscal year 2025 the increases are expected to cost taxpayers more than $136 million.

The collective bargaining agreement was approved Wednesday by the Honolulu City Council, and must still be ratified by members of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union….

PDF: City Council approves pay r…

read … City Council approves pay raises for Honolulu police officers

Major Cut to Cost-of-Living Allowances Planned, Then Put on Hold for Service Members in Hawaii

MC: … Marine Corps Forces Pacific Headquarters warned in a Facebook post Thursday that cuts to the allowances could translate to a "$280-$500 per month" decrease starting in November….

The Department of Defense circulated information about a looming COLA reduction to the various services in a memo Sept. 6. After being contacted by Military.com on Friday about the allowance cut, Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said that the memo is being rescinded and that no final decision has been made….

The non-taxable overseas COLA allowance exists to make living in more expensive areas more affordable for service members stationed overseas by offsetting the cost of daily expenses to make them comparable to costs for bases in the contiguous U.S. With rising prices in the contiguous United States due to the pandemic and inflation, the gap has diminished, leading to the cuts. There is also a COLA allowance for the highest-cost locations in the continental U.S. (CONUS).

Information posted Thursday by Marine Corps Forces Pacific Headquarters on Facebook detailed a 10-point reduction in the cost-of-living allowance for the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu. An eight-point reduction was shown for Maui….

Hawaii is not the only overseas area to be hit with cost-of-living allowance decreases.

In May, the Pentagon announced that there would be a reduction in the overseas cost-of-living allowance for families in the Kaiserslautern Military Community starting June 1 because prices in the continental United States are now more expensive than those in Germany….

read … Major Cut to Cost-of-Living Allowances Planned, Then Put on Hold for Service Members in Hawaii

Koko Head Shooting Complex to be closed for months

SA: … The Koko Head Shooting Complex will be closed beginning today due to staffing issues, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation said.

The closure at Oahu’s only public shooting range will remain in effect until a $300,000 berm renovation project to reinforce the back stop behind the northern targets is completed….

read … Koko Head Shooting Complex temporarily closes due to staffing issues

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