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Kawananakoa Estate: Lawyers Squabble over Million Dollar fees and Tax Evasion
SA: … Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa is accusing her former lawyer of stealing $1.4 million in fees and court costs in a move her attorneys say nearly drained the trust of its liquid assets and left it unable to pay its tax obligations….
Asked to respond, Wright said the law provides for trustee fees, and he was following the law — especially after Browning declined an earlier “emergency” request by Kawananakoa and Worth to block him from taking fees without the court’s consent.
What’s more, he’s taken less than a third of what he’s entitled in an effort to accommodate Kawananakoa’s sporadic cash flow, Wright said, and he didn’t take any money from the trust between July 2017 and January 2018, forcing him to cash in a retirement account to pay for his own bills.
“There is a trust obligation to provide for the welfare of the beneficiary, which I’ve done,” he said. “I have a right to be paid, and I was paid.”
A hearing on the matter will be heard in Browning’s courtroom April 4….
According to their filing, Wright paid himself $1.1 million within hours of the court’s Sept. 10 verbal order removing him as trustee. (He remains trustee until a successor, likely First Hawaiian Bank, agrees to take over.) At the same time, Wright advanced his personal attorneys a total of $300,000 for his possible defense….
But Wright said a trustee has no duty to ensure every obligation is paid immediately.
“It doesn’t mean that Gail Worth’s Outrigger bill gets paid before the trustee,” he said. “If a trustee pays for every obligation before himself immediately, there will be no trustees anymore.”
Wright said he will raise enough money for Kawananakoa’s taxes by April 15 just as he has for the last nine years he’s been responsible for paying them.
Wright said the court filing is “a lot of noise” designed to ruin his reputation and discourage no-nonsense First Hawaiian Bank from taking over as successor trustee.
The reality is Kawananakoa and Worth’s attorneys paid themselves more than $1 million from tax refunds intended for the trust, he said….
Wright added that the court filing is irresponsible because it shines a spotlight on the heiress’s failure to file and pay gift taxes over the years.
“If they’re going to taunt the IRS, they better bring her into compliance immediately because it threatens her financial security and her entire charitable legacy,” he said….
Background: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality
read … Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa accuses her ex-lawyer of stealing $1.4M
Will Lyon Bribe Recipients Get Away With It?
SA Editorial: … Lyon admitted, among other bribes, that he paid at least $240,000 in installments to a Hawaii government agency employee “and certain State Agency officials who had served on the selection committee and influenced the award of the $2.5 million State Agency contract” to Lyon’s firm.
Whoa. That detail is in court documents that outline incidents of bribery and government corruption of Lyon doing business — in Hawaii, as well as in the Federated States of Micronesia.
In the Hawaii case, the documents do not disclose — yet — the state agency involved, the identity of the state official who conspired with Lyon, the names of those bribed to pick Lyon’s firm, or the project awarded.
What little is publicly known, so far, is that Lyon’s co-conspirator worked at that state agency from about 2008 until about 2012, and that some $24,000 total also went to the co-conspirator’s relative as part of the bribery package. The corrupt payments were made to the Hawaii official ostensibly for “marketing services” to Lyon’s firm, but was actually for the official’s “participation in influencing the award of a State Agency contract in favor of” Lyon’s company, court papers show.
Tip of the iceberg. The guilty plea by Lyon — who was a Honolulu Zoning Board of Appeals member — should be prompting further investigations into this government corruption. Blind eyes cannot suffice on “pay to play” criminality….
read … Pay to Play
Supreme Court Ruling Challenges Vote-by-Mail Procedures
ILind: …Justices keyed repeatedly during oral arguments on the issue of handling last-minute ballots delivered by mail, which were required to be “received” by election officials by the 6 p.m. deadline set by law. Waters, in his legal challenge, argued that a sweep of these ballots at the post office well after that deadline should not have been allowed, and the ballots should not have been counted.
Justices at several points directly questioned attorneys representing election officials about why their “past practice” explanation should be accepted when the late pickup was contrary to the plain language of the election law. They apparently found the answers unpersuasive.
That issue of the handling of that small batch of ballots became the basis for a narrow court ruling. However, in the process of working through the issues in this case, the justices–aided by the questions highlighted by Waters and the voters who joined the election challenge–managed to touch on other areas where election law and practice need to be more carefully reviewed by those who are not insiders in the current system.
For example, absentee ballots accounted for 56% of all ballots cast statewide in the 2018 general election. Election officials presented data showing nearly 5% of all absentee ballots were discarded because of problems validating voter’s signatures. Voters were never notified that their ballots had been invalidated or given an opportunity to confirm their identification and votes. That seems to be an issue waiting to blow up in the next tight election campaign.
It was noted during oral arguments that election officials made use of the Department of Motor Vehicles signature database, while election law and administrative rules say the only valid comparison is to the voter’s absentee ballot affidavit or voter registration. Another apparently conflict between law and practice….
read … Court points to election administration problems
Homeless Drug Addicts Learn New Trick from PIT Questions: Pretend to be Lava refugees
HNN: … Outreach workers serving the homeless in rural areas of Oahu say over the past few months they’ve started seeing people living on the streets who were displaced by the 2018 eruption on the Big Island.
“Sometimes it hurts our hearts because they’re literally out there with all their clothes and babies and it’s raining,” said outreach specialist Rose Coleman….
Coleman says she started seeing lava evacuees show up on the streets of Oahu in late summer and remembers one of the first families she encountered.
“There was three adults. A mom, a dad and a grandma. And five minor children,” said Coleman.
“They started off as staying with family. Then there was some problems in their living situation and literally they just got put out on the street.”
Officials at ALEA Bridge report finding lava evacuees on the North Shore, Wahiawa and Mililani….
ALEA Bridge is responsible for areas from Mililani to Turtle Bay and out to Kaena Point.
Three days into the week-long count, Executive Director Phil Acosta said they’ve collected about 180 surveys.
“We have received nine surveys where they have self-reported they were affected by natural disasters,” he said. “Two came from the mainland. The rest didn’t indicate specifically which island.”…
(Idea: Don’t believe everything the Homeless say.)
read … Oahu outreach workers see a new type of homeless client: Lava evacuees
Health care program for veterans to change this year
MN: … Hawaii Veterans Affairs officials announced Thursday that the VA will replace its current health system with a new, consolidated program later this year, aimed at increasing doctor choice and making it easier to use and navigate.
The current Veterans Choice Program, which utilizes contractor TriWest in the Pacific area, will be ending in June, said Jennifer Gutowski, director of the VA Pacific Island Health Care System. In its place will be the Veterans Community Care Program.
Other details, such as which contractors will be used or how the transition will unfold, are not clear at this time, said Gutowski, who leads the Oahu-based VA Pacific, which provides health care services to veterans in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and throughout the Pacific islands. ….
read … Health care program for veterans to change this year
Volcano? Puna Vacation rentals Wiped out by New Law
WHT: … While Volcano is returning to its feet after the Kilauea eruption, vacation rental operators fear the county’s new vacation rental law will force the community to its knees again.
The new law, which goes into effect April 1, will prohibit certain short-term vacation rentals outside of hotel and resort zones. Currently existing vacation rentals in the excluded zones will need to apply for a nonconforming use permit by the end of September in order to be allowed to continue to operate….
While the law has been controversial throughout the island, it is especially so in Volcano, a community whose dozens of vacation rentals are the backbone of its economy.
At a Thursday meeting of Volcano business owners, under the auspices of tourism advocacy group Experience Volcano, many expressed concern and confusion about how the bill will affect the community….
WHT: West Hawaii national parks to reopen at noon
read … ‘We’re limping along, for now’