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Judge refuses to block ballot question on Hawaii constitutional amendment
SA: A judge has ruled against a motion by Hawaii’s four counties to block November ballots from asking voters if they want to amend the Hawaii Constitution to allow the state to tax investment property.
In ruling for the state, First Circuit Judge Jeff Crabtree said today that the counties didn’t meet the standards required for granting a preliminary injunction, including a requirement that they are likely to win. Rather, he said the counties are unlikely to prevail in the case.
Hawaii’s four counties are suing the state arguing that the ballot question is unlawfully vague and that the Legislature didn’t follow proper procedures in passing the measure….
“Is the language as thorough and definitive as one would like? No … This language is not as clear as it could be. That said, (the statute) does not require that the proposed constitutional amendment contain a detailed description of all the issues and possible effects connected to the proposed amendment.”
Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong said during a press conference after the ruling that she was disappointed, but that the counties will press on in the lawsuit while working to educate voters about why they oppose affording the Legislature this taxing power. Leong said that she hoped for a final ruling in the case before the general election….
The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which backed the bill in the Legislature this year, issued a statement cheering today’s ruling.
“Today was a victory for Hawaii’s keiki,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. (Translation: “If our members were paid better, more of them could afford private school tuition for their own keiki.”
read … Judge refuses to block ballot question on Hawaii constitutional amendment
Principal: I Took $83K from School Treasury Because I am HGEA Member
SA: …In a letter to parents on Aug. 31, the day of the vote, the commission said it took action “in the best interest of the school, its students and staff” after the “governing board failed to manage the financial performance of the school.”
The commission questioned “pay advances” totalling $83,000 to the school’s founder and head of school, Alvin Parker, and other administrators including his wife, Renette, that were made without withholding. It also pointed to $122,800 in “unknown expenses” in the last school year.
Parker told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that his school has passed its independent financial audits. He said he is owed about $200,000 in back pay because his salary has not changed since 2007 although he is a member of the Hawaii Government Employees Association….
Ka Waihona, founded in 2002, is a Hawaiian culture-focused school with 644 students in grades kindergarten through 8. This year it created a new off-campus division that enrolled 100 students, most of them military dependents, as part of a financial sustainability plan….
read … Commission votes to replace board of Ka Waihona charter school in Nanakuli
Baldwin HS band director placed on paid leave during investigation
MN: Baldwin High School band director and teacher Stephen Rodrigues has been placed on leave with pay from his job, as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving students.
Rodrigues has been on department-directed leave since April 6, Lindsay Chambers, communications director for the state Department of Education, said by email.
She said Noel Kuraya, who has been Baldwin band director since school started, is a part-time temporary instructor for band classes this school year….
a Department of Education communication refers to allegations that Rodrigues may have engaged in sexual misconduct with a Baldwin student from 2003 to 2005 and that he is involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a current student….
read … Baldwin band director placed on paid leave during investigation
Maui: Campaign spending fine proposed for Anti-GMO Nut Atay
MN: …Commission staff members propose a $2,700 fine and a finding from the commission that there is probable cause to believe Hawaii campaign finance law has been violated. If the fine is assessed, it would have to be paid by Atay’s personal funds within 20 days if his campaign organization doesn’t have sufficient funds….
The commission staff complaint, filed Aug. 6, alleges two counts of unauthorized handling of campaign funds.
In one count, Atay executive assistant Brian Bardellini, who serves as chairman of the Friends of Alika Atay, is alleged to have written 14 checks totaling $12,643 drawn from the campaign account. And, in another count, Atay himself is alleged to a written two checks totaling $186.46 from the account.
The complaint says that, under Hawaii law, only the campaign’s treasurer and deputy treasurer are authorized to receive contributions or make or incur expenditures of campaign funds on behalf of the campaign organization. Neither Bardellini nor Atay is the campaign’s treasurer or deputy treasurer, the complaint points out.
The complaint alleges five counts of submitting false reports. The allegations note inconsistencies between bank records and reports filed with the commission. The counts stemmed from Atay campaign filings for the periods of July 1 to July 29, 2016; July 30 to Aug. 13, 2016; Aug. 14 to Oct. 24, 2016; Oct. 25 to Nov. 8, 2016; and Nov. 9 to Dec. 31, 2016.
The commission is scheduled to hear the complaint during its next meeting Wednesday…
Atay has drawn fire for the actions and behavior of Bardellini, his executive assistant.
A council committee is reviewing a $100,000 county grant awarded to Bardellini for events honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu’s 250th birthday in March.
Bardellini has reportedly been barred since October from the seventh floor of the county building, where the Office of Council Services is located, for violating a workplace violence policy, according to multiple county workers.
And, Bardellini has been banned from interacting with state Department of Agriculture workers or visiting department offices statewide because of abusive language, inappropriate behavior and attempts to provoke physical confrontations with staff members over a three-year period, department officials said.
More recently, county Office of Economic Development Director Teena Rasmussen told council Budget and Finance Committee members in September that $46,000 of a $100,000 grant awarded to Bardellini for the Ka’ahumanu birthday event was being withheld because of reports of unpaid vendors from funds already dispersed….
read … Campaign spending fine proposed for Atay
Hawaii GOP shakeup
KGI: …The Hawaii Republican Party’s Finance Committee Chair resigned abruptly Thursday, stating complaints against key officials in the party as his reason.
In his letter of resignation, Mark Blackburn says he still fully supports the party and the party’s political nominees, but goes on to say the actions of Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich and Vice Chair Pat Saiki have obstructed the party’s efforts to build a new Hawaii Republican Party….
Yoder said he has mixed feelings about the resignation, but if it’s something Blackburn wants and thinks it will help the party, then so be it.
“I do not know what his strategy is, but he always has one. What he’s doing now is to further the Republican party,” he said.
Resignations aren’t necessarily a bad thing, Yoder said.
“People think the sky is falling, it’s Chicken-Little time, but the Republican Party is fine. We’re looking forward to the absentee ballot dropping and the election finishing Nov. 6,” he said.
Former Kauai County councilmember and state senator Gary Hooser had a different opinion about Blackburn’s resignation and Hawaii’s GOP.
“The Republican Party has been in turmoil in Hawaii for a long time,” he said. “Certainly the last year it’s been really bad. There are factions within the Republican Party that are very disruptive, who want to push the party further to the right.”
Hooser said his biggest complaint with the party is that its candidates refuse to disavow the actions, statements and policies of Trump….
Despite this week’s shakeup, Hellreich said she believes the Hawaii GOP has a bright future with some excellent candidates running this election cycle. But she’s very disappointed in Blackburn’s statements.
“Everybody’s free to have their opinions, but they’re not free to change the facts. Unfortunately, he changed the facts in this case,” she said….
SA: Trump supporters see no alternative
read … Hawaii GOP shakeup
Mandatory evacuation pau: Leilani Estates residents being allowed to return starting today
HTH: …After more than three months of closure, the mandatory evacuation zone covering much of Leilani Estates has been lifted for residents.
Following a statement by Mayor Harry Kim Friday afternoon, the mandatory evacuation order prohibiting access to parts of Leilani Estates east of Alapai Street will be lifted at 9 a.m. this morning.
“Are we excited about it? Yes,” said Jay Turkovsky, Leilani Estates Community Association president.
Turkovsky, who owns a residence within the evacuation zone, had said previously that the restricted area only served to inconvenience residents after volcanic activity quieted in August….
While residents will be able to access the previously inaccessible areas of the subdivision, Hawaii Police Department Capt. Kenneth Quiocho said police will still maintain checkpoints at the entrance to the subdivision, restricting access to residents and authorized personnel only.
The Leilani community association ultimately hopes to file a memorandum of understanding with the county to obtain control over Leilani Avenue, allowing the neighborhood to set up a gate at the road’s entrance and obviating the need for police checkpoints, Turkovsky said.
Until then, Turkovsky said he is happy to get back to his home “to defend it from the wild pigs that have just been tearing it up lately,” but added that a lot of work is still required to make some roads passable. Some segments of road will need to be replaced with gravel for the time being, Turkovsky said.
Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said there are approximately 250 residences still within the evacuation zone, although he could not confirm the number of surviving homes isolated by lava.
In addition, Magno said residents with property within a 50-yard perimeter of the lava flow field must notify Civil Defense to receive a waiver. Otherwise, any approach within 50 yards of any part of the flow field is prohibited….
SA: Evacuated Leilani Estates residents cleared to return home
read … Mandatory evacuation pau: Leilani Estates residents being allowed to return starting today