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Hawaii Daily News Read

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018
May 9, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:26 PM :: 1477 Views

Ookala: DoH Warns on Dairy-Related Water Pollution

City Buys 33 Unit Waikiki Building for Homeless

HVO: Risk of Steam Explosion at Kilauea Summit

Assisted Suicide: A Look into Hawaii's Future

How Legislators Use Closed Door Meetings to Fool You

KGI: …One of the first lessons learned by newly elected legislators and councilmembers is the importance of “counting.” Even the best ideas will sometimes languish for years until finally the critical fulcrum point representing majority support is reached, and the resulting shift in balance carries the proposal forward into law.

Even those legislators that don’t support a particular proposal understand the importance of counting and will often swing to its support rather than be on the losing side of an issue. “All for one, one for all” permeates the air of the State capitol especially when formal votes are taken. Once a majority of members reach a consensus, a unanimous vote usually follows close behind, with minimal dissension.

At the State legislature, members are allowed the legal opportunity to meet and discuss the issues in private, a right not afforded to those who serve on the County Council and bound by Hawaii’s Sunshine Law.

This means that State legislators will literally go into a room, close the door and work out their differences. They then emerge from the room and vote in public, each of them knowing with a fair certainty what the outcome of the vote will be.

If after having this private discussion it is clear that a certain bill is going to “lose” and fail to carry a majority vote on the floor, then that measure is “killed in caucus” and no vote is ever taken on the floor. This is all done with minimal often no public notification, discussion or debate. And as a further benefit to legislators, there is as a result no public dissension or divisiveness among members. As a practical matter no one knows really “what happened to the bill”. It simply dies.

Killing bills in caucus is the exception rather than the rule as normally, bills that are unable to gain the critical majority support needed during the committee hearing process will die in committee long before they reach the floor vote.

That death will also be a private one. The Chair will ostensibly be making the decision but only after clearing it with “leadership” at another closed door meeting. At the hearing itself, the Chair will announce the bill’s death via a motion to “defer”. There will be no public discussion by committee members and the bill will just go quietly on its way to wherever dead bills go. The general public and the bill’s advocates will be left scratching their heads wondering what really happened.

At the County Council level, due in large part to the Sunshine Law, the personal, political and lawmaking dynamics are far different….

read … Counting in public – expedience or sunshine?

HB2182/HB1986: Big Landowners to Score Megabucks from Carbon Credit Scam

CB: House Bills 2182 and 1986 seek to make Hawaii a “carbon neutral” state by 2045. That means Hawaii would offset more carbon dioxide than it produces, through activities like planting trees (maybe they will chop down mature trees to do so), which can essentially store carbon, the greenhouse gas responsible for climate change….

“The idea that we’re monetizing our trees – that is so game changing,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai, who spoke at a press conference discussing the bills.

Hawaii industries could (be forced to) buy carbon credits (a new tax), but so could businesses in other states (a distraction). California, for instance, generally sets caps on carbon production but lets carbon-producing businesses exceed the cap by buying carbon credits to offset the excess carbon they produce….

read … Scam

Now That Chief and Police Commission are Reformers Council Suddenly Wants to Change Everything

CB: …Voters may get a chance to decide how Honolulu selects its police chief.

(IQ Test: Are you enticed?)

Now, the power to hire and fire a police chief rests with the Honolulu Police Commission, a seven-member board appointed by the mayor and confirmed by Honolulu the City Council.

Under a proposed charter amendment, the mayor would instead appoint the chief. Much like city department heads, the mayor’s pick would require the council’s confirmation.

The proposal also would allow the City Council to select some members of the commission and the mayor the rest.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson introduced the measure late last year. It is scheduled for a vote by the council on Wednesday….

Police Commission Chair Loretta Sheehan says Anderson’s resolution would gut the commission.

“It’s very important to keep law enforcement away from politics,” she said.

Otherwise, “the chief of police is more susceptible to having to do the mayor’s bidding.”…

read … Should The Mayor Choose Honolulu’s Police Chief?

Office of Elections Retaliation Lawsuit Bounced Back to Circuit Court

HTH: …The Hawaii Supreme Court overturned the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit filed by county Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto and a former elections clerk against Hawaii County, former Councilman Dominic Yagong and a private investigator.

The 48-page ruling filed Tuesday, however, clears former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, saying the comments attributed to her in a 2012 newspaper article weren’t defamatory because they were true….

The court sent the rest of the case back to circuit court for further proceedings for all defendants except Kawauchi. The circuit court must decide because “whether Yagong’s allegedly defamatory statements were true involves a disputed question of material fact.”

Higher courts rule only on the law; it’s up to the circuit court to rule on facts in a case.

The lower court must also decide whether the private investigator hired by the county, Corporate Specialized Investigations and Intelligence Services LLC, breached its duty of care “to conduct an investigation honestly, truthfully, with fair dealing, and to report the results of the investigation accurately, without misrepresenting any facts,” the ruling states.

Nakamoto and former elections clerk Shyla Ayau sued after statements by Yagong and Kawauchi were quoted in a Jan. 12, 2012, article in Big Island newspapers naming four employees who were fired for unspecified violations of county policy. In the article, written by former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Jason Armstrong, Kawauchi identifies the four who were fired….

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 also were 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 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.

Flashback:

read … Supreme Court sends Nakamoto defamation case back to circuit court

Maui County’s top attorney reports gambling winnings in latest financial disclosure

MN: …Maui County’s top civil attorney, Patrick Wong, got lucky again in Vegas last year, winning at least $26,000, although that’s not his highest winnings to date.

According to Wong’s annual financial disclosure statement filed with the County’s Board of Ethics in April, he won between $25,000 and $49,999 from Desert Palace LLC doing business as Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino. And he won between $1,000 and $9,999 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

(Disclosures call for revealing a range for earnings, not exact figures.)

Over the years, Wong has reported gambling winnings amounting to between $1,000 and $9,999. But, in 2014, he won between $50,000 and $99,000 from Harrah’s and MGM in Las Vegas. In his 2017 disclosure, Wong reported winning between $10,000 and $24,999 at Harrah’s and winning in the same range at MGM.

Wong’s disclosure is among others scheduled for review by the ethics board at its monthly meeting at 12:30 p.m. today….

read … Gambling

TVR Rules –Hawaii County Bill 108 amended

HTH: …An April 24 committee hearing brought out almost 100 testifiers, many of whom were concerned about losing the ambiance of their neighborhoods.

Council members mulled over the bill in open and executive sessions before amending the measure and then postponing it until June 4.

The good neighbor rules set quiet hours from 9 p.m.-8 a.m. During other hours, the noise cannot be louder than “would be otherwise associated with a residential area,” under the amendment. The rules must be provided to the tenant and prominently displayed in the unit.

Amendments also require the owner or designated contact person to reside in the county, provide contact information and respond to complaints within one hour of being notified.

Bill 108 applies only to unhosted rentals, where the owner does not live on site. Hosted rentals, such as auxiliary units, home sharing and bed and breakfasts are not addressed.

The measure is an attempt to prohibit unhosted short-term rentals in residential and agricultural zones, while allowing them in hotel and resort zones and commercial districts.

Existing rentals in good standing in the disallowed areas would be able to apply for a nonconforming use certificate that must be renewed annually for a $500 fee. Good standing means the property must be in use as a vacation rental, paying transient accommodations and general excise taxes prior to July 20.

The rentals in disallowed areas would have 180 days after the bill passes to apply for a nonconforming use permit. The annual certificate could be denied renewal if the vacation rental hasn’t complied with the good neighbor rules.….

read … Vacation rentals Bill 108 amended to require neighborly rules

Disasters Create New Opportunities to Attack TVRs

ILind: …Airbnb alone lists more than 70 vacation rentals in Kauai’s flood-ravaged Wainiha and Haena. The company listed more than 15 vacation rentals in Leilani Estates, where lava is erupting on Hawaii island. The company lists hundreds more rentals near these hot spots.

She tells the story of one B&B with lava fountaining from a nearby fissure. The operator explained to her guests that they had to leave because of the mandatory evacuation. Apparently they complied. But as she was loading possessions and preparing to evacuate, a new set of guests arrived and wanted to check in.

“She said, ‘Where will I go?’ I said, ‘Go to Hilo and look for a hotel room,’” Wiesenbauer said. “She said, ‘What if they don’t have anything?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m in the middle of an evacuation.’”

A visitor industry rep quoted by Schaefers said vacation rental operators should be obligated to provide the same level of emergency preparedness as hotels….

read …Disaster

Visitors to Haleakala decline 12% in 2017 –After Reservation System Imposed

MN: …The implementation of the sunrise reservation system in February 2017 did not appear to be impacting park visitation or revenues, Lassiter indicated.

“Visitation seems to be more evenly distributed throughout the day,” he said.  (Translation: Reservation system killed 50% of morning traffic.)

The park began limiting visits from 3 to 7 a.m. to 150 vehicle reservations made online (recreation.gov) for $1.50 per reservation. Overcrowding at the summit for sunrise led to unsafe conditions, such as people wandering off trails in the dark to try to get away from crowds, and environmental damage.

Prior to the reservation system, more than 300 vehicles were driving to the summit before sunrise, overwhelming the limited parking spaces….

All National Park Service units in Hawaii drew a total of 6 million visitors in 2017, the report showed. Those visitors spent $400 million in the state. Nationally, there were 330 million park visitors with an economic benefit of $35.8 billion.

The report is available at go.nps.gov/vse.

read … Visitors to Haleakala decline 12% in 2017

How Hawaii Schools Are Building Bridges To Micronesian Students

CB: …The social studies department chairman at McKinley High School in Honolulu noticed that in the six years he has taught at the school, no Micronesian student had ever enrolled in his AP classes — even though those students make up 11 percent of the student body.

If they weren’t registering themselves, Loomis thought, he would encourage them in that direction. He went to the registrar, looked for rising juniors and seniors with good grades and attendance who had not enrolled in an AP class of any kind at the school. The effort yielded 10 names….

With some help from Dusty Santos, who is a special education teacher from the island state of Pohnpei and the Micronesian Club advisor, a few meetings with the students, a form sent to parents and some follow-up, Loomis succeeded in getting seven of the 10 kids to sign up for his AP Psychology class this school year…. 

CB: This Marshallese Tutor Is A ‘Connection To Home’ For Students

CB: An Arkansas School District Goes All-In Welcoming Marshallese Students

read … How Hawaii Schools Are Building Bridges To Micronesian Students

Volcano Blasts Puna—But Brainwashed Punatics Obsess over Squeaky Clean Geothermal Plant

BIN: …As lava moves through the Leilani Subdivision and closer to PGV, a geothermal energy conversion plant that sells electricity to the Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO), community leaders and residents have been raising concerns over the chemicals stored at the facility and the possibility of an explosion should this eruption reach the 60,000 gallons of pentane onsite. Pentane is a highly flammable liquid.

At the meeting, PGV representative Mike Kaleikini told attendees that the site is still closed and that all the geothermal wells are shut.

“As we speak, we are making arrangements to transport our pentane to a remote location to be taken off site,” Kaleikini said.

He added that 12,000 gallons will be moved this week and as they receive more containers, the remaining 48,000 gallons will be moved.

A resident in the audience asked if PGV was going to plug the geothermal wells.

Kaleikini said, “No. We just had a 6.9 [magnitude earthquake] and the wells are all in good shape.”

Many in the crowd attempted to voice concerns and ask further questions—but the meeting moved on to the next speaker.

“In the open forum, there were a lot of people who wanted the PGV representative in front of the assembly to answer questions so that everyone can hear the answers. That didn’t happen,” said Puna

resident and community volunteer Ariel Murphy. “I went to the PGV representative and advised him to

issue press releases so that the public who are hungry for info about the potentially dangerous and

toxic gas stored in the premises of PGV are assured that there is no danger of explosion.”…

read … Brainwashed

Volcano News:

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