Bat Killing Windfarm Buys Enviro Support for $2.75M
Auditor: Agriculture Department Hides $2.4M from Legislature
Chemophobia epidemic—Fanning fears about trace chemicals obscures real risks and ‘damages public health’
DoE Touts AP Exam Results
A victory to savor, but core issue remains
Election Day Is Already Over For Almost 80,000 Hawaii Voters
CB: Of the 254,880 mail ballots sent out so far, about 75,000 have been returned. Another 5,000 voters already went to early walk-in polling places….
read … Election Day Is Already Over For Almost 80,000 Hawaii Voters
‘Appearance of Impropriety’ -- Hawaii Senate confirms Ige Campaign Manager for post on Appeals Court
SA: …Keith Hiraoka easily won Senate confirmation to the Intermediate Court of Appeals this week with senators showing little concern that he also happened to be Gov. David Ige’s former campaign manager and high school friend….
The Senate approved Hiraoka 20-0 on Thursday, with five members excused. State Sens. Laura Thielen and Donna Kim voted yes but with reservations. They said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that their concerns rested not with Hiraoka’s close association with Ige or his qualifications, but rather with how quickly he was jumping from his position as a 1st Circuit judge, a position he has served in for only 19 months after being nominated by Ige and confirmed by the Senate last year.
“I’m a little taken aback by that because I assume when you guys come before us, you are making a commitment to the court,” said Kim, noting that Hiraoka applied to the ICA after serving as a 1st Circuit judge for just 13 months.
Thielen said it made it difficult to implement reforms in the lower courts, which are deluged with high volumes of cases, when judges move up so quickly.
State Rep. Andria Tupola, Ige’s Republican opponent in this year’s governors race, and her running mate, Marissa Kerns, criticized the governor earlier this month for nominating Hiraoka to the ICA. Kerns, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, called it “classic Aloha State Democrat cronyism on steroids and stinky politics of the worst kind.”
However, public testimony on Hiraoka’s appointment was almost unanimously supportive. David Kimo Frankel, an attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., was the only person to testify against Hiraoka during Wednesday’s committee hearing. He noted that the ICA often reviews actions by government agencies.
“I don’t think it is appropriate for him to be hearing appeals regarding decisions made by the Ige administration, whether by the governor himself or his appointees,” Frankel told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s just inappropriate. It creates an appearance of impropriety.”
read … Hawaii Senate confirms Hiraoka for post on Appeals Court
Payments restart as DOE computer system is partly restored
SA: …The Department of Education has begun catching up on payments to vendors after partly restoring a computer system that crashed Oct. 6, officials announced today.
The department processed and mailed out checks worth $320,000 over the weekend and is sending out another 2,000 checks that total $15 million.
The Financial Management System handles a range of vendor payments, from school supplies to construction contracts. Employee payroll and school food service were not affected when the system failed during an upgrade….
“As part of our effort to modernize the department’s systems, including FMS, we have been working to upgrade our programs,” said Brook Conner, assistant superintendent for information technology. “This is a complex initiative due in part to the age (LOL!) of some of these platforms. (Its hard to find 1900s programmers.) Our goal is to enhance these systems (instead of buying new computers) to better serve our students, schools and community partners to minimize this type of disruption going forward.”…
read … Payments restart as DOE computer system is partly restored
Kealohas’ Bank Fraud Trial Moved To June
CB: …On Thursday, Puglisi scheduled the bank fraud trial of the Kealohas to take place June 18.
Puglisi’s scheduling means that the shorter, more targeted case against the Kealohas will occur only after a six-to-eight-week trial on corruption charges begins March 19.
In that case, the Kealohas and four Honolulu police officers face charges they framed Katherine Kealoha’s uncle with the theft of the couple’s mailbox and then lied to investigators….
read … Kealohas’ Bank Fraud Trial Moved To June
OHA Insiders Target Akana
SA: …Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Rowena Akana testified before the state Ethics Commission on Thursday, saying she was being unfairly singled out as part of an election-year campaign by her rivals to remove her from office.
What’s more, Akana said it was her own efforts to uncover unethical and incompetent behavior within OHA that made her a target.
“I’m here today because of whistle-blowing and retaliation, as far as I’m concerned,” she told the five-member commission in the Honolulu contested case hearing.
In three hours of testimony Thursday, Akana offered explanations for most of the charges, noting that many of them had been permitted by the OHA fiscal office, while others had been repaid after they were disallowed….
Regarding the legal fees, Akana is accused of improperly receiving more than $72,000 from Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa to help pay for her court battle against OHA from 2015 to 2017. It was at a time when Kawananakoa was suing the trustees, including Akana, on a different issue.
Akana told the commission that her suit was an attempt to uncover ethically questionable, closed-door wheeling and dealing by the board majority in the purchase of the Nimitz Highway building where OHA is now housed….
read … Crabbe in the Bucket
After Decade of OHA Obstructionism--Kauai Juvenile Drug Treatment Center Almost Complete
KITV: The Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center on Kaua'i is scheduled to be completed by next week, and operating by spring of next year.
The center will provide community-based, collaborative and comprehensive treatment for both adolescents and their families' mental and substance-abuse related healing.
As construction workers poured concrete for the foundation of the administrative building Wednesday -- Mayor Bernard Carvalho stopped by the facility located on a 5.8-acre parcel donated by Grove Farm. …
The kitchen and instructional areas are still in the construction phase…/
There will be eight bedrooms, with open space for recreational and agricultural healing activities, plus a building dedicated to community and professional treatment support. A teacher will also be provided by the Hawaii State Department of Education….
KGI: Kauai Treatment Healing Center moving along
Flashback 2007: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility
read … Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center almost complete
After years of complaints and $1M in fines, homeowner just keeps operating illegal vacation rental
HNN: …On Thursday, several rental cars pulled up to the house with the latest batch of vacationers set to stay in the home. They said they were paying $1,500. That’s $500 more than the daily fines from the city.
“The mayor’s administration is sending a message: ‘Go ahead operate illegally. We are not going to crack down on you,’” said state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who represents Kailua.
Neighbors on North Kalaheo Avenue also fear retaliation by the owner.
Last month, several of them received a letter from the city saying the fines for the illegal rental total $1.5 million.
There is a lien on the home and foreclosure is on the works.
The city says the foreclosure issue is still with their attorneys.
HNN reached out to the owner through the VRBO website, where the property is still being advertised, and got no response. The owner lives out of state….
Hawaii News Now first reported on the illegal vacation rental in 2016. The city said then that it didn’t have the tools to investigate even though the mayor vowed to crack down in 2014….
read … Joke Enforcement
Kilauea tops USGS ranking of nation’s ‘very high threat’ volcanoes
SA: Kilauea remains No. 1 on a list of volcanoes in the U.S. categorized as a very high threat for 2018, according to areport released this week by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS updated its volcano threat assessments for the first time since 2005, taking new research into consideration to determine which volcanic systems should be added or removed from the list of potentially active volcanoes.
Kilauea, which has been erupting for more than 30 years including this year’s Leilani Estates outbreak, topped the list, followed by Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano and California’s Mount Shasta….
Kilauea, which also topped the list in 2005, is the most active U.S. volcano, according to USGS, with the highest overall threat score of 263. Mauna Loa joined Kilauea in the very high threat category, at No. 16.
Hualalai on the Big Island was categorized as a high threat, at No. 23. Haleakala and Mauna Kea were categorized as moderate, at No. 86 and No. 106 respectively….
PDF: USGS Report
read … Kilauea tops USGS ranking of nation’s ‘very high threat’ volcanoes