How Christmas Came to Hawaii
Lawsuit: Lloyd's of London Kickback Scheme Steered Lava Victims to Worthless Coverage
Criminal Prosecution for DLNR staff?
SA: … the agency’s internal control mechanisms apparently failed to quickly uncover glaring problems in DOBOR’s Kauai district office….
In the aftermath of a state Ethics Commission investigation, Kauai’s district manager, Joseph V. Borden, resigned on Dec. 15 from the post he had held since 2012. Among the ethics report’s allegations he did not dispute: falsifying records to award 42 state contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars to one contractor.
That contractor, South Shore Lawn Services and Hoff Enterprises Inc., scored nearly $1 million in payments for 107 jobs over a four-year period. Since a majority of the contracts were for less than $5,000, they were exempt from procurement system competitive bidding….
the commission pointed out that immediate DLNR superiors should have reviewed the Kauai district’s expenditures with greater care, and should have required additional verification as to the need for services as well as the attached price tags….
In Borden’s case, there were other red flags. For example, he used state funds six times between 2014 and 2016 to purchase first-class seats on airline flights for himself. That’s a violation of state travel polices, which limit purchases to coach seating. And in violation of the state ethics code, he used state equipment for personal “projects.”
Borden, who had worked at DOBOR-Kauai since 2004, supervised nine employees. The commissioned also slapped two with fines — one for $1,500, and the other, $2,000 — for using state-owned gear for private use.
Last week, Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case said DLNR, which has been conducting its own investigations, is looking at how internal procedures, controls and training programs might be improved to ensure strict staff compliance with ethics and procurement laws….
the agency owes taxpayers a thorough account of what went wrong at the Kauai district and at the agency’s supervisory and administrative levels….
it’s apparent that criminal prosecution would be appropriate….
Background: Ethics: DLNR Manager Steals Equipment, Funnels Money to Contractor
read … Probe into DLNR staff misconduct
Copying UH: DoE Magically Triples its Deferred Maintenance, Grabs for $868M
SA: …The backlog of repair and maintenance projects at Hawaii’s public schools is an estimated $868 million, roughly three times worse than what legislators were told in January.
State Rep. Sylvia Luke, who chairs the House Finance Committee, said she was astonished to learn the actual size of the backlog and how the figures got so out of whack….
the Department of Education is launching an online database so the community can keep tabs on each project as it progresses…
In a budget briefing at the Legislature in January, school officials had reported the repair and maintenance backlog was $293 million as of 2017, a significant drop from $392 million in 2010.
The revelation about the real extent of the problem came later this year after
a “deep dive” by a new leadership team, including fresh eyes from the private sector (some magic) said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for school facilities and support services….
another tip-off was when he heard recent estimates of R&M needs at the University of Hawaii’s 10-campus system. The latest figure for UH deferred maintenance is $722 million, according to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
“We are orders of magnitude larger when it comes to facilities compared to U of H,” Carlson said. “It caused me to question, How can we be reporting $293 million?”…
(Translation: We want to scam the Lege just like UH does.)
“Any of our legislators, any of our board members, any of our school administrators will have access to this information,” Carlson said. “It’s a much more transparent system. People will have the ability to pull that information anytime.”
(Unspoken Truth: Garbage in Garbage out.)
A second big initiative the Department of Education has launched is “job order contracting,” which is expected to expedite certain repair projects.
The traditional design-bid-build method is a drawn-out approach, from appropriation to design, bidding, protests over awards, construction and sometimes cost overruns. On average it takes seven years.
Job order contracting works to speed up common repairs by selecting contractors through a competitive bid to perform various separate but repetitive jobs at fixed prices over a period of time. The aim is to get the work done quickly and easily.
(Translation: Builders give more campaign contributions than architects.)
DOE is starting with roof repairs under this method and then plans to move on to heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects.
Over the last five fiscal years, a total of $704 million has been appropriated in lump sum allotments for repair and maintenance projects at the Department of Education.
(And that was just a warm-up exercise.)
Precisely as Explained: DoE Announces New Scheme to Extract CIP Money from Legislature
read … Repair and maintenance bill pegged at $868M for Hawaii public schools
OIP error allowed government agencies to withhold public records for decades
ILind: … In a major ruling, the Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday ruled that preliminary budget requests submitted to the mayor by city agencies and departments, as well as other documents that are part of internal decision making processes, are not automatically exempt from public disclosure under the state’s public records law.
State law generally requires all government records to be available for public inspection unless they fall in a limited number of categories that are considered exempt from disclosure.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court overturned opinions of the Office of Information Practices going back to 1989 that had recognized a “deliberative process privilege” shielding all pre-decisional, deliberative agency records from disclosure. The court found OIP’s prior advice “palpably erroneous.”
The court’s ruling does not require the requested records to be made public. However, it will make it much more difficult for agencies to withhold them from public view, because they will no longer be assumed to be confidential and will require government agencies to specifically show why disclosing them would make it difficult for the agency to function….
A dissenting opinion by two members of the court, including Chief Justice Recktenwald, supported the “deliberative process” exemption, but agreed with Civil Beat that OIP’s interpretation and application of it had been overly broad and “clearly erroneous.”
The city will now have to decide whether to release the requested documents, or try to defend their continued withholding by providing enough specifics to show that each of the documents is likely to undercut a “legitimate government function” if disclosed….
read … OIP error allowed government agencies to withhold public records for decades
Fighting at the Public Utilities Commission
IM: Proposed wind farms, biomass facilities, waste-to-energy facilities, transmission lines, gas pipelines, fossil fuel power plants, and substations have one thing in common. They are regulated by the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission (PUC)….Any individual or organization can file a timely motion to intervene in any PUC proceeding for a fee of $15….
read … Fighting at the Public Utilities Commission
Bum Patrol: Hawaii County Parks Hires Security Guards
HTH: … Lincoln Park, located at Kinoole and Ponahawai streets in downtown Hilo, is the newest county Parks and Recreation location to have a security guard located on site.
Parks officials say the move came after a storage room was broken into and supplies were stolen, instances of vandalism as well as drug paraphernalia being found….
A security guard has been on site at the downtown park for a “couple of months.”
“Right now, (we are) looking for all kinds of ways we can curtail illegal activity and people camping overnight in parks that are not allowed for camping,” Waltjen said. “In addition (to) that, we are trying to make sure the parks are safe and clean for the children to play in.”
Waltjen said the department experiences problems in parks all over the island.
Drug paraphernalia has been found in bayfront parks and soccer fields, vandalism happens “on almost a weekly basis,” and several weeks ago, people broke into the Kawamoto Swim Stadium area by jumping the fences.
“Gates are locked, doors are locked, but they climb over the fence,” said Waltjen. “It’s an ordeal. It’s almost like playing catch up. You finally get a park restored or do some improvements, (and) the following week, (you) have someone go in and vandalize the park.”
Waltjen said the presence of security in county parks could “quite possibly” expand in the future, but “the thing is that security services cost a lot of money. Right now we really don’t have (that) money. It’s a challenge.”
The department has spent $465,000 on security so far in the current 2018-19 fiscal year and has requested about $471,000 for security next year….
“We do have cameras and we are selectively installing video cameras in areas … where vandalism has been problematic.”….
read … Parks and Rec increases security at Lincoln Park