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September 22, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:44 PM :: 1979 Views

Analysis of religious liberties ranks Hawaii 30th

City seeks candidates to serve on boards and commissions

DLNR: N Shore Homeowners are Doomed, They Should Just Accept It

OHA Docs: CNHA Guilty of COVID Fraud?

SA: … Documents show that an OHA review found CNHA noncompliant in 2020 in its handling of Emergency Financial Assistance Program funds, which morphed into COVID-19 relief. According to public records obtained by the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser, OHA told CNHA on July 23, 2020, that it had found 37 noncompliant recipients in a random survey of 50 grant applicants — representing 20% of 256 total disbursements….

According to public records obtained by the Star-Advertiser, OHA’s July communication cited problems with CNHA’s documentation of addresses, household members, income status, bills, and Native Hawaiian status. OHA’s concerns included instances where CNHA gave an applicant money for a bill that had a zero balance or issued payments for more than the applicants made or paid someone whose income had increased.

OHA noted an instance where reimbursement was earmarked for rent, but the payment went to utilities. In another case, OHA said CNHA had marked the application “not recommended to pay,” but issued payment anyway. The documents show that OHA said a payment also was issued to a household member of an applicant without proof that they lived in the same household as the applicant.

OHA also gave examples of applicants who were paid without completing financial literacy training, which was an early requirement of the contract, which was later amended at CNHA’s request after the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a Nov. 6, 2020, document obtained by the Star-Advertiser, OHA CEO Sylvia Hussey sought to have CNHA complete a corrective action plan and agree to a compliance monitoring process. However, at the same time, she also outlined a plan for OHA to draft and execute a new $2.17 million contract with CNHA — the new agreement to distribute relief included stricter requirements, but also upped CNHA’s administrative compensation to 25%.

Lewis, who worked for OHA for eight years before leaving for CNHA, said he declined the new, more-lucrative agreement and terminated the first agreement early at the direction of his board….

Lewis said CNHA distributed more than $700,000 of the $1.6 million two-year contract before terminating it.

“We received over 4,000 applicants and awarded to just under 300”; however, he added that if OHA had considered less-stringent requirements, more money could have been distributed….

William J. Aila Jr., who is chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, said in an email, “DHHL is very pleased with the work that CNHA has provided to the department in managing millions of dollars in federal funds intended to serve the native Hawaiian community.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi supported CNHA’s proposal for the HTA U.S. tourism contract. Blangiardi said in a letter of support, “We have had tremendous success working with Kuhio Lewis and CNHA in providing emergency financial assistance (Rent &Utility Relief) to Oahu’s residents facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-­19 pandemic.

read … Handling of OHA funds leads to questions over CNHA’s bid for tourism contract

Mauna Kea Appointees Stake Out Negotiating Positions -- How Much Will Telescopes Have to Pay OHA?

CB: … “What’s important to me is that the mauna is going to be taken care of in a different way,” said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, who was arrested in 2019 for blocking a key access road during the 2019 Mauna Kea protests.

She was among eight people appointed to be on the panel by Gov. David Ige earlier this month. They must still be approved by the state Senate. Ige and Senate leaders are discussing whether to call a special session to approve the appointees, according to the governor’s office. Each member will serve no more than three, three-year terms….

Six of the eight appointees are Native Hawaiian, including Wong-Wilson, Gary Kalehua Krug, Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Pomaikai Bertelmann, Joshua Lanakila Manguail and Paul Horner. The other two members are Rich Matsuda and John Komeiji….

Manguail, a Native Hawaiian practitioner, was also on the Mauna Kea working group and among the leaders of the 2019 protest. He was arrested in 2015 while protesting the construction of the Maui solar telescope….

Gary Kalehua Krug…has opposed TMT, but (blablabla)…

Kamanamaikalani Beamer…has in the past expressed his opposition to TMT in a YouTube video after the Hawaii Supreme Court cleared the way for construction in 2018.  “This will be a pivotal time for all of us, but one thing I’m certain of is that my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren don’t need to see the peak of Mauna Kea developed,” he said in the video. “There’s enough telescopes up there. There’s more than enough.” …

Pomaikai Bertelmann…Bertelmann was selected for her background as a lineal descendant of a Native Hawaiian practitioner associated with Mauna Kea….

Paul Horner…Horner said he’s “not sold one way or the other” but noted that if TMT were built, he wouldn’t want any more telescopes on the mountain.“I’m pretty much neutral because of what’s happened in the past,” Horner said. “There’s a lot of damage done to the mauna. We can’t be held back one way or the other, but we have to find common ground. I think there is a way to find common ground and build the Thirty Meter Telescope, but it depends on the group.”..

John Komeiji, former general counsel and vice president for Kamehameha Schools and general manager of Hawaiian Telcom…said he would need to listen from all sides regarding TMT, including conservation advocates, people who say astronomy benefits the economy and the need to respect Native Hawaiian culture and values.“What I intend to do is listen to everyone and try to emphasize on all sides and come to some conclusion down the road,” Komeiji said….

Rich Matsuda, spokesman for the W.M Keck Observatory that operates near the summit, is the only appointee who would represent the astronomy community. He was also one of the members of the Mauna Kea working group….

(TRANSLATION: All of these comments really say one thing.  ‘We are negotiating cash payments via the future master lease.  These are our negotiating positions.’) 

read … New Mauna Kea Stewards Will Need To Balance Astronomy And Cultural Values

Sources: Tentative deal would put UH in charge of developing, managing new Aloha Stadium

HNN: … Hawaii News Now has learned of a tentative deal that would have the University of Hawaii take over development of a new Aloha Stadium of Halawa and its management.

The details are emerging in light of the governor’s unexpected decision to cancel plans seeking developers for the stadium and neighboring entertainment complex.

Sources say there are still a few important hoops to jump through in formalizing the deal, including approvals by the university leadership, the Board of Regents and the Stadium Authority.

”We want to do it as quickly as possible. We now believe we have the appropriations necessary to really complete the project for the first time,” Gov. David Ige said, on the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s Spotlight Wednesday….

“There’s discomfort in just turning over the development of public lands and huge, huge, vast amount of public lands to a development team,” said Sylvia Luke, a candidate for lieutenant governor.

The other surprise under the tentative plan is to have the University of Hawaii build and operate it, using its insight as a major stadium user.

The idea points to their experience building campus facilities, including the rapid improvements to Ching Stadium.

“They have the ability to build large projects in a very short amount of time. So that’s what gave us significant amount of confidence,” Luke said….

Big Q: What’s your general reaction to the governor taking Aloha Stadium redevelopment in a “different direction”?

SA Editorial: On new path for stadium, housing

HNN: Hawaii Gov. Ige Wants To Build New Aloha Stadium ‘As Quickly As Possible’

SA: Private financing not needed to build new stadium, Ige says

read … Sources: Tentative deal would put UH in charge of developing, managing new Aloha Stadium

Special Session?  Ige, Legislators Refuse to Act to Stop Mass Release of Rapists, Child Molesters and Murderers

CB: … Gov. David Ige issued a statement Wednesday saying that he would not call the Hawaii Legislature into special session to draft a new law to reverse a recent Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that limits prosecutors’ choices when indicting serious criminals.

“I’ve been talking with Legislative leaders about how they want to proceed,” Ige said in the statement. “The Supreme Court has ruled that grand jury indictments must be pursued for most of the serious crimes, and there are a number of pending cases in process. Any new legislation would be prospective only, so I don’t see the sense of urgency to try to implement a change. Until we have consensus on what changes would be necessary, I believe it’s premature to talk about a special session.”

The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has asked the Legislature to convene in special session because the court’s Sept. 8 decision prevents it from initiating serious felony cases using preliminary hearings before a judge. The court ruled that a grand jury must hear each case before taking a defendant to trial and nearly 170 convicted felons were tried using the preliminary hearing process. Those cases could now be overturned, according to First Deputy Prosecutor Thomas Brady...

SA Editorial: Resolve snafu on criminal cases

read … Hawaii Gov. Ige Rules Out Special Legislative Session To Fix Court’s Grand Jury Ruling   

The state is confident red light cameras are legal. They’ll likely face legal challenges anyway

HNN: … Several lawyers say they expect to file legal challenges to the state’s new red light safety camera program.

But Hawaii officials say similar programs have been upheld by courts in other states.

The new red light safety cameras will take photos of vehicle license plates and issue warnings or tickets to car owners, but not necessarily to the driver who ran the red light.

Some attorneys said that may be unconstitutional.….

“How can you be cited for something that you didn’t actually do?” said attorney Patrick McPherson.

“And you have a due process right to go in and fight it out but how are you going fight a ticket that you have no idea it happened because you weren’t there.”

Back in the early 2000s, attorney Patrick McPherson successfully challenged the highly unpopular van cam program. He thinks the red light safety camera program will suffer a similar fate.

“I don’t think that’s going to fly. I think the judges will dismiss them,” he said.

McPherson also said that a rash of new red light tickets could clutter up the state’s congested court system….

Big Q: How do you feel about the red-light camera project, due to launch with warnings next month?

read … The state is confident red light cameras are legal. They’ll likely face legal challenges anyway

Council considers property tax exemptions for latest ‘Film Studio’ Scheme

SA: …Under Bill 45, to receive property tax rebates for up to 30 years, businesses would have to invest a minimum of $75 million in improvements to facilities and create 100 new full-time jobs — which would enhance property values in the surrounding area. The criteria also stipulate that the 100 jobs must be filled throughout the 30-year tax exemption period….

Although the bill says businesses in growth industries identified by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism — including technology, diversified agriculture and film — could qualify for the tax rebate, the film industry has been the loudest in pushing the measure forward.

David Zelon, founder of the Manhattan Beach Studio Group’s Advisory Board, said the company is trying to build a large film studio on the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus and that Bill 45 would help with that project. He added that the city is currently not collecting property tax from the land the studios would be built on….

read … Council considers property tax exemptions for businesses along rail line

Proposal to allow counties in Hawaii to set own minimum wages gains ground--but only higher

HNN: … A proposal to give counties in Hawaii the power to set their own minimum wages is gaining ground.

The Maui County Council endorsed the effort of Lanai seat holder Gabe Johnson, which seeks to allow each county to set higher local minimums than the state….

The resolution must now be endorsed by the other three county councils before it can be considered in the next state legislative session beginning in January….

read … Proposal to allow counties in Hawaii to set own minimum wages gains ground

Liquor commission’s public trust questioned by City Council

KHON: … Council Vice Chair Esther Kiaaina is calling on the commission to establish an internal investigator to impartially review complaints involving commissioners and employees.

Kiaaina said, “Restaurant and bars contribute so much to the economy, and right now I don’t feel that the appropriate mechanism is in place for people to be able to complain if they believe such conduct is discriminatory, for example, which has been alleged.”

The Honolulu Liquor Commission Acting Administrator Anna Hirai said allegations of misconduct are currently reviewed by an outside contractor.

“Currently we retain on contract an internal affairs investigator,” Hirai said. “She is a retired HPD, she works on an on-demand basis, as opposed to keeping someone on the payroll for 40 hours a week.”…

The resolution was introduced by Kiaaina and Council Chair Tommy Waters, it was in part prompted by allegations of discrimination by commission employees towards an LGBTQ establishment. That litigation is nowhere near to being settled but the Interim Commission Chair Malama Minn said she has heard of no wrongdoing while serving in the commission. …

read … Liquor commission’s public trust questioned by City Council

Former Stevenson Middle School principal sues Hawaii DOE over threatening case

SA: … A former principal of Stevenson Middle School has filed a civil suit in district court against the state Department of Education, accusing the department of failing to provide adequate protection against a threatening stalker, and retaliating against her.

The suit filed by Katherine Balatico alleges the department violated Title IX of the Education Amendments and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, retaliated against her, was negligent and inflicted emotional distress.

The suit details threats of sexual assault, torture, arson and murder against Balatico and her children from an unknown person or people, starting in May 2020. No suspect has been arrested….

read …  Former Stevenson Middle School principal sues Hawaii DOE over threatening case

Commission denies appeals of its decision on Maui police chief complaints

MN: … At its last meeting Sept. 7, the commission decided not to take disciplinary action against Pelletier after reviewing investigations of three employee complaints alleging a hostile work environment.

On Wednesday, after about an hour and a half-long executive session, the commission emerged to say that a complaint against the chief for “alleging violations of policy and procedure” was unsubstantiated.

“The investigative report did not substantiate the claims made in the complaint against Chief John Pelletier,” De Rego said. “The commission found the investigative report complete and decided unanimously to decline initiating disciplinary proceedings against the chief of police and to file the complaint.”

Commissioners deferred action on one complaint also “alleging violations of policy and procedure” against Pelletier….

(Translation: SHOPO’s effort to oust the ‘outsider' Chief  has been set back, for now.  But this is not over.)

read … Commission denies appeals of its decision on police chief complaints

HPD: Officers see increase in weapons law violations, robberies

KHON: … In a Honolulu Police Commission hearing Wednesday, Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan reported a 26% rise in weapons law violations. On East Oahu, police recently teamed up with federal partners in a ghost gun bust.

“So he was arrested with the help of HPD detectives and D4 task force officers and Homeland Security Investigations on a federal search warrant of his house and they caught a 22 auto large suppressor, 9mm and methamphetamine,” said Logan….

“During that time they were focused on staking out areas and identified an individual involved in two gun-point robberies,” said Logan.

According to HPD’s crime map, over the last month there have been 71 robberies compared to 55 last month.

“In the Chinatown area, there was also a male suspect who used a skateboard to hit an elderly male and took his cellphone and he was later arrested for robbery a couple hours later in the same area,” Logan said….

read … HPD: Officers see increase in weapons law violations, robberies

Robberies, shootings, assaults: residents say crime in Kalihi is exploding

KITV: … Kalihi Valley residents are concerned with a major uptick in crime and they're pleading with state leaders for help.

"We had a 19 year old that was assaulted -- sexually assaulted -- about a week and a half ago," said Kalihi Valley resident Michael McDonald. "And we've had other general crime in the area, you know, so everybody's kind of concerned in my neighborhood."

Surveillance videos from McDonald's neighbors show trespassers looking through mailboxes, trying to get into cars and stealing things right off front porches….

"People are fearful, the neighbor or neighbors are upset," said Rep. John Mizuno, who represents the district. "There's been some fatalities, there's been some shootings, I think everybody's aware of that. Unless we coordinate together and address these issues, the uptick in crime will continue."…

read …  Robberies, shootings, assaults: residents say crime in Kalihi is exploding

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