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Thursday, March 16, 2017
March 16, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:05 PM :: 1387 Views

How Would You Fix OHA?

Study: Ige's Budget Runs Out of Money in Two Years

American Samoa Rep Calls on Trump to Undo Fishing Bans in Obama Tuna Monuments

Another Dangerous Travel-Ban Ruling

House Budget Cuts Pension Payments

AP: Overall, the House cut about $500 million from the governor’s proposed two-year budget and the Senate, which takes up the bill next, will have to cut even further, Luke said.

One of the biggest cuts the House made was to the amount that the state will pay to fund health care and other benefits that it has promised to public employees after they retire. Ige proposed spending $211 million on those retiree benefits in the next two years, attempting to speed up the rate that the state catches up in setting aside full funding to pay those promised benefits in the future. But the House decreased that budget by $74 million, Luke said….

Republican Rep. Gene Ward told colleagues before the vote he’s heard murmurings about planned federal cuts and cautioned the state should not assume that it will get 20 percent of its funds from the federal government as a guarantee.

“Assumption is the lowest form of information,” Ward said….

read … State lawmakers pass $28B budget amid fear of federal funding cuts

Jail Population Down to 20 Prisoners?  Hawaii House Rearranges Staff

CB: …Luke noted that money would also be tight when it comes to grants in aid. On Friday, dozens of groups such as the Molokai Land Trust, the YMCA of Honolulu and Catholic Charities Hawaii will make their pitches before House Finance and the Senate Ways and Means Committee….

While stressing commitment to helping juveniles in trouble with the law, Luke pointed out that the HYCF today only houses 20 kids, as compared with a high of 240 in 2003. She said it made sense to reduce the number of guard positions and convert some to social workers and counselor positions.

(Translation: They were embarrassed to have more guards than inmates so they re-labeled some of the positions to be higher-paying ‘professionals’.)

read … Budget

HCR103: State House to Hear Alternative to Elevated Rail

IM: House Concurrent Resolution 103 and House Resolution 61 request the State Auditor to study the comparative costs of an elevated rail versus a street level rail from phase two of the Honolulu Rail System, from Middle Street to the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

The Resolutions are scheduled to be heard tomorrow at 11:15 am by the House Transportation Committee.  Testimony can be submitted online.

The Resolutions were introduced by House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, and co-authored by Representatives Scott Nishimoto, Scott Saiki, and Cynthia Thielen….

Related: HCR103: State lawmakers want cost comparison of street level versus elevated rail system

read … State House to Hear Alternative to Elevated Rail

How To Save Money And Salvage The Rail

CB: Running street level rail from Middle Street through downtown can be done with the $6.8 billion in existing funding….

read … Scott Wilson

Shakedown: To Get Film Tax Credits, Producers Will Have to Hire OHA ‘Cultural Consultants’

HNN: …The state offers a 20 percent tax credit to film on Oahu, 25 percent to film on the neighbor islands. But Wakai has introduced a bill to take things further before a producer can get the tax break.

"There's a requirement that a film tax credit recipient hire a cultural expert to kind of orient the crew as to what's acceptable or not acceptable in this state," Wakai said.  (Ca-Chiiing!)….

read … Cultural, environmental knowledge may be required to get film tax credit

County Budget Swells—65% for Salaries

KGI: Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. is proposing a $204 million operating budget and a $14.3 million capital improvement program for FY 2017-2018.

“This proposed budget continues to pursue the shared goal of the county council and the administration to build a financial strategy that seeks to address the county’s short-term objectives while maintaining long-term financial stability,” Carvalho said.

Last fiscal year, the Kauai County Council set the budget at $189 million.

If passed, the proposed operational budget would be the highest in a decade.

In the last 10 years, the county’s operating budget has increased by about $56 million. The lowest budget was recorded for FY 2010-2011, when the county allocated $147 million.

The bulk of the budget, about 65 percent, $132 million will go to county employee salaries and benefits, according to the Mayor’s Budget Message…..

read … Swollen Bureaucracy

Hawaii ranks dead last in voter turnout for 2016 election

SA: …In the 2016 presidential election, Hawaii once again had the ignoble distinction of leading the country with the lowest percentage of voter turnout, 43 percent, according to a study released today.

Hawaii ranked dead last in participation by eligible voters, followed by West Virginia (50.8 percent); Texas (51.6 percent); Tennessee (52 percent); and Arkansas (53.1%).

It was the fifth-consecutive presidential election in which the report by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project concluded that Hawaii had the lowest voter turnout in the nation….

read … Turnout

Retaliation: Hawaii County Election Officials Continue to Drag Whistleblowers Through Court

HTH: The Intermediate Court of Appeals has sided with former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi in a 2012 defamation lawsuit filed by Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto and one of her staff.

(Nakamoto is still the Hawaii County Elections Administrator.)

In a 26-page opinion signed Tuesday, a three-judge panel agreed with a 3rd Circuit Court judge that civil lawsuits against employers are pre-empted by workers compensation law except in the case of sexual assault. The panel also agreed that comments made in the newspaper by Yagong and Kawauchi weren’t defamatory.

At issue were statements by Yagong and Kawauichi quoted in a Jan. 12, 2012, article in Big Island newspapers naming four employees who had been fired for unspecified violations of county policy.

In the article, written by former Tribune-Herald reporter Jason Armstrong, Kawauchi identifies the four who were fired.

“Kawauchi confirmed four employees have “separated” from the county, but she couldn’t divulge why. However, she identified the employees as: Pat Nakamoto, a longtime elections program administrator; Glen Shikuma, warehouse manager; Shyla Ayau; and Elton Nakagawa,” the story said….

Yagong and Kawauchi were investigating reports that county employees were hosting parties with alcohol at the county’s Elections Division warehouse. The county code forbids alcohol use on county property.

The two were also looking into reports that the warehouse manager, Glen Shikuma, was running a private (CAMPAIGN) sign-making business in the county’s leased warehouse building, which would also have been against the county code. Investigators turned up evidence of empty, full and partially consumed alcohol containers, as well as (CAMPAIGN! Hello? Hello?) sign-making equipment Shikuma said he was storing at the warehouse, but claimed he never used on county property.

After union grievance hearings, Nakamoto received a 10-day suspension and was reinstated. Shikuma died of an aneurysm before completing the union arbitration process….

read … Retaliation

No applicants yet for next Honolulu police chief—April 3 Deadline

HNN: More than two weeks after the forced retirement of Honolulu's top cop, the department has not received any applications to become the city's next police chief — at least not yet. 

Max Sword, chairman of the Honolulu Police Commission, expects that to change soon.

He said a lot of people have already inquired about the position since it was posted Sunday. 

Applications will be accepted through April 3. 

The city's Human Resources Division said it will throw out the applications of those who are not qualified. A panel of Oahu residents will then narrow down the list.

The commission said it expects to receive that list by the middle of June, and hopes that a new new chief can be decided on by sometime in July.

A bill to eliminate the one-year residency requirement for Honolulu's police is moving through the state Legislature with no opposition….

SA: HPD officer pleads not guilty in Pearl Harbor theft case

read … No Applicants

Soft on Crime: Two Police Chases and Still out on Street

HNN: …Bryson Bagio was supposed to be sentenced Wednesday morning, but First Circuit Court Judge Sherri-Ann Iha agreed with arguments made by Bagio's attorney, Richard Gronna, who said his client is doing well in a drug rehabilitation program and should complete it before receiving his sentence.

Bagio faces sentencing on four charges related to the car chases, including an islandwide chase that ended in a multiple-vehicle crash on the H-1 Freeway.

"He's looking really well, he looks well. He's got color back in his face. He's gaining weight. He's coming around," Gronna said.

Bagio's sentencing was delayed until April 12.

Chad Kumagai, the state's deputy prosecutor assigned to the case, objected to the delay.

In arguing for the continuance, Gronna said his client knows that he'll have to be held accountable for his crimes. "He recognizes that there's still the probability he's going to have to do prison time….

read … Soft on Crime

Big Bust a Sign That OxyContin Users Shift to Heroin?

HNN:  Experts say a drug once popular in the 1980s and 90s is making a comeback: Heroin addiction here in Hawaii is on the rise, mirroring a trend of abuse seen on the mainland.

"It's increasing. It's alarming to the extent that it's increasing," said Alan Johnson, CEO of the Hina Mauka treatment center in Kaneohe.

"We're starting to see them in treatment here when they're 18 or 21, which is a pretty young crowd ... We're seeing a lot of the middle class and the more affluent."

Johnson said a recent federal crackdown on prescription opiates, like the drug Oxycodone, has prompted some addicts to turn to heroin as a cheaper replacement.

"There's definitely been an upsurge in heroin use," said defense attorney Myles Breiner. "We're seeing more and more cases of people who are getting arrested with methamphetamines and carrying personal amounts of heroin."

It's a point that was hammered home earlier this month, when federal investigators seized more than 18 pounds of heroin bound for Honolulu at the Los Angeles International Airport….

read … Amid opiate crackdown, heroin use in Hawaii on 'alarming' rise

SOS Domestic Violence Advocates Respond to Scene

HNN: …Advocates with the city's Domestic Violence Action Center say they've responded to 106 calls since September -- a number that has plenty of room to grow, according to the center's executive director.

The response actions are part of a new program called "Safe on Scene," a program that is commonly used in mainland cities. Nanci Kreidman, who runs the center, started pushing for it on Oahu after violent video surfaced of an HPD officer fighting with his girlfriend in 2015….

Honolulu police officers who respond to domestic assaults, arguments, harassment complaints or restraining order violations are told to call advocates within 30 minutes so they can provide immediate assistance to victims -- even if there isn't an arrest.

The advocates can then offer services, referrals or other safety plans.

Of the 106 calls advocates have responded to, 52 resulted in successful follow-up calls to victims. But in the first six months, Kreidman says many opportunities to call SOS were lost -- mostly because officers forgot to call an advocate…. 

CL: Safe on Scene Counselor Positions

read … SOS

How Legislators Tricked Anti-GMO Morons

CB: The Legislature killed a bill that would have increased the regulation of pesticides. They did this in a top-secret, no-recorded-vote way that in Mizuno’s words was a “protective mechanism to not expose any members.” ….

“No matter which side you are on,” Mizuno lamented, “you are going to be attacked.” ….

“We’re always secretive. It’s part of being a legislator.” — House Speaker Joe Souki

read … How Hawaii Lawmakers Magically Make Bills Disappear

Lead Poisoning: Caldwell Reneged on Promise to Maintain Site

HNN: …Lum says he's been complaining about the potholes and cracks in front of his Factory Street home since 2007. Just this December, the city told him it would "discontinue maintenance of Factory Street" because of signs banning parking on the road.

Although the road and it's shoulder are private property, the Environmental Protection Agency told the city and the state in the 90s they needed to make sure the asphalt was maintained and that the soil wasn't disturbed without precautions.

Now, the city is saying it will do the work  ... just not everything that's needed.

"We cannot do the shoulders, so the Department of Health is looking at working with private landowners, I believe, to get the shoulders done," said Kroning.

read … Can’t Trust Caldwell

Dead Bee Hype Busted

KE: …In fact, “Kauai has some of the healthiest bees in the world — or at least, the country,” said Scott Enright, director of the state Department of Agriculture.

So concluded Danielle Downey, the former state apiary specialist who conducted the study in 2015. It was financed by a $12,000 Kauai County grant, which was issued after people freaked out during Bill 2491, claiming that the westside seed companies were killing and poisoning bees.

“This study showed this was not the case,” Enright told the Kauai County Council yesterday.

“During the infamous Bill 2491, many claims were made by proponents of the bill,” Councilman Ross Kagawa said. “And they had some very serious accusations that people were dying, babies were being born deformed, cancer was on the rise, and of course, that bees were dying at a rapid rate. So based on your study, are those claims true or false, regarding the bees?”

“False, Enright relied.

And yet another bogus claim bites the dust. Indeed, not one of those accusations was found to be true.

KGI: Honeybee pollen study yields positive results

read … Dead Hype

Hawaii v Trump: As Expected Honolulu Federal Judge Does His Part for the Local Power Structure

HNN: “We’re going to flight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court,” Trump said. “We’re going to win it. We’re going to apply common sense. We’re going to apply intelligence, and we’re never quitting, and we’re never going away, and we’re never, ever giving up. The best way to keep foreign terrorists or, as some people would say in certain instances, radical Islamic terrorists from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place.

“The order (the judge) blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with,” Trump added.

Most of the people we talked to say they believe the fight will continue on to higher courts.

Hakim Ouansafi, chairman of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said, “I think everyone is in wait-and-see mode — what can happen, what is going to be taken.”

Ouansafi says he knows of at least 40 students, mostly from Iran, who want to come to Hawaii to attend graduate programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, though a university spokesperson said the number of students could be closer to a dozen…..

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson issued the nationwide restraining order on Wednesday afternoon, less than two hours after a hearing on the issue had wrapped up….   (Its easy to issue rulings quickly when you write them in advance.)

(It’ll be upheld by the 9th also.  No real court until the Supreme Court.)

Related: Congress Considers Bill to Break up 9th Circuit Court

read … Hawaii v Trump

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