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Monday, February 25, 2019
February 25, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:20 PM :: 1178 Views

Double Trouble: Lyon Also Offered Cash to Son of FSM President

Aloha Stadium Scheme Exploits Federal Tax Breaks

Hawaii Nursing Homes Highest Quality in USA 

Federal Investigation Prevents Ige from Talking to US DoT about Rail

CB: … Hawaii Gov. David Ige has a meeting set up with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this week, but there’s one thing the two agreed not to discuss — Honolulu’s $9.2 billion rail project.

That might seem like an odd omission considering the Federal Transit Administration, which is under Chao’s purview, has promised the city $1.55 billion to help build the 20-mile rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana.

But a recent U.S. Justice Department investigation has complicated matters, Ige said during a brief Sunday interview with Civil Beat.

“Because of the federal investigation she said she’s not at liberty to discuss transit so we won’t be discussing transit on this trip,” Ige said.

“We are meeting on a number of other issues. As you know highways, airports and harbors are a big part of what we receive federal funding for in Hawaii.”…

read … Ige Doesn’t Think HART’s Federal Funding Is Threatened

New Budget Process Cracks Down On State Agribusiness Development Corp

CB: … The Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. manages about 3,300 acres of land and infrastructure acquired with $71.4 million in taxpayer money….

A public agriculture corporation that said last year it was too busy to be audited now has a state audit requirement grafted onto its funding bill. This time, the Agribusiness Development Corp. isn’t putting up a fight.

“They’re not going to object,” said Rep. Richard Creagan, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee.

That’s probably because the audit requirement is now tied to the corporation’s funding.

“If that bill fails, then they cease to exist,” Creagan said….

Creagan credited House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke and a new approach she’s brought to budgeting. Instead of passing one massive budget bill run through only the House Finance Committee, Luke has carved out smaller budget bills for certain programs.

Committees like Creagan’s agriculture committee then got the chance to weigh in and in some cases make funding contingent on program changes.

The agribusiness bill is just one example of the changing budget landscape that empowers committee to change spending plans.

A bill that funds the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Consumer Advocacy cuts two hard-to-fill public utilities rate analyst positions from the division, along with $130,492 from the consumer advocate’s budget.

• Another bill adds four positions to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Creative Industries Division and one position for DBEDT’s general support.

• Yet another bill, shepherded through the Intrastate Commerce Committee by its chair, Rep. Takashi Ohno, places caps on amounts collected by certain special funds administered by DCCA to cover costs of regulatory programs. Some of these funds have millions of dollars in surplus revenue collected as fees or surcharges, Ohno said, money usually sits in accounts and can’t be used for other purposes…..

read … New Budget Process Cracks Down On State Agency

Former sex worker speaks out claiming police officers pressured her to perform sexual acts

KITV: … "Maybe I had a warrant and the officers would know that and tell me 'You take care of me, I'll take care of you,'" she said.

This woman claims at least five Honolulu police officers pressured her to perform sexual acts. She's sharing her story because she doesn't want her traumatic experience to happen to anyone else. …

A recent study by the State Commission on the Status of Women and Arizona State University shared stories from 22 Hawaii women and girls….

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said HPD would fully investigate any incidents if victims would come forward with full details….

read … Former sex worker speaks out claiming police officers pressured her to perform sexual acts

Retaliation: Another Complaint Against Hawaii County Fire Chief 

HTH: …Brian Keopuhiwa currently must drive a 220-mile round trip 10 times a month from Hilo to reach his workplace. He was permanently reassigned to that station Dec. 1, according to documents filed with the Merit Appeals Board. The county’s rules of procedure for fire personnel forbid the use of personnel placement as a disciplinary measure…

“Your placement to the Kailua Fire Station as a fire rescue specialist is because efforts to mediate the relationship, through EAP counseling and professional mediation, between you and all three fire captains at the Waiakea Fire Station did not result in an outcome that allows all of you to work together,” Rosario said in a Dec. 3 letter to Keopuhiwa. “Your placement is not disciplinary.”

It’s not the first time the board has fielded complaints about Rosario. Two longtime West Hawaii battalion chiefs who said they were stripped of their badges after they publicly criticized their boss lost their case before the board in 2016, but have since filed civil lawsuits.

The battalion chiefs were investigated by the department after they wrote letters to the Fire Commission and the mayor criticizing the chief….

read … Complaint filed against fire chief

No Housing Available for Mentally Ill

CB: … It was the spring of 2013 when Marti’s daughter Christie Claussen arrived at the doorstep of the Institute for Human Services’ emergency shelter for homeless women and families.

Nearly six years later, 45-year-old Christie is one of the longest-standing residents at Hawaii’s largest shelter. After stints living at bus stops and failed group home placements, Christie has slept in the top bunk of a metal frame bed on Kaaahi Street for two consecutive years….

“She’s stuck in this hole now and I just can’t get her out of it,” says Marti, who visits her daughter every Saturday, bringing her money, fresh laundry, two packs of cigarettes and a lift to McDonald’s for french fries and chicken sandwiches.

Christie has schizoaffective disorder, a serious mental condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions and severe swings in mood. Over 17 years, the illness has damaged her ability to think, concentrate, recall memories and make decisions….

The critical shortage of special needs housing is most pronounced for people who require extensive supervision due to mental illness. Although one-third of homeless adults on Oahu have a debilitating mental disorder, most of the housing options prioritize people with physical ailments. This leaves people like Christie with slim chance of finding an adequate fit….

experts in homelessness, addiction and mental illness agree that it is sometimes impossible to deliver effective psychiatric or substance abuse treatment to a person with no place to live.

Christie’s lack of self-reliance does not make her a good fit for Honolulu’s Housing First Program, which gives chronically homeless people with mental illness or drug addiction the keys to an apartment.

In six years of homelessness, Christie has qualified for eight placements in group or care homes across Oahu. She was quickly evicted from most of them….

read … When Delusions Steal Your Daughter

SB980: Secular Takeover of Catholic Schools?

SA: … The Hawaii Council of Private Schools, which licenses private schools under an agreement with the state, is pushing to tighten oversight rather than leave licensing as optional. The council is a subsidiary of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools….

Catholic Schools Superintendent Mike Rockers strongly opposes the legislation, saying it might violate the constitutional separation of church and state. He also objects to having a “third party” such as the council determine the fate of parochial schools.

House Bill 409 was deferred by the Committee on Lower and Higher Education, headed by bill co-sponsor and committee Chairman Justin Woodson (D, Kahului-Wailuku-Puunene) after Rockers’ testimony Feb. 12.

All 33 of Hawaii’s Catholic schools are accredited by WASC, a higher standard that includes licensing. So the proposed legislation would not affect them at this point, but Rockers said he feared it could lead to trouble.

“We certainly as a Catholic organization want to be able to hire Catholic teachers, and there’s other parts of our identity that we want to remain focused on,” he said. “Right now those things are not affected by the accreditation or that licensing checklist. But 10 years down the road, when an organization has the authority to license, if they change some wording related to curriculum or pedagogy or hiring practices, then it may put us in a bind.”

Rockers said of WASC and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools that “choosing to have them as part of our support and our collaboration with them is one thing, but mandating that it should happen is a different thing, I think.”…

read … License?

Food Safety Modernization Act Could Put Kamuela Farmers out of Business 

HTH: … The Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant is in line for a face-lift.

The Legislature commissioned a Hawaii Department of Agriculture feasibility study for work on the plant that recommended a three-step course of action — tear down old structures, upgrade the existing plant to comply with the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act and build out a certified commercial kitchen.

The study projects demolition costs at $450,000 while compliance upgrades to the current facility are estimated at $124,000. The commercial kitchen would almost certainly require new legislation and more state money, the feasibility study quoting an estimated figure of $1,824,000.

Failing to complete the upgrades would put the handful of farmers who are members of the Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Cooperative in a bind, all but “handicapping the processing of food products moving through this facility,” Atta said.

And even though only around half of the co-op’s 17 members still use the vacuum cooling and refrigeration services the state-owned and cooperative-leased plant provides, hamstringing the facility would prove a significant blow to Hawaii Island agriculture — not to mention a lack of action would leave consumers less secure.

“There are a lot of food safety requirements and it’s very difficult to be able to actually farm outside and still comply with all (of them),” said Raymond Kawamata, a North Hawaii farmer and one of the cooperative’s board members. “That is not something that will stop and it will get only more important.”…

read … Cool it: State examines demolition, upgrades, additions to Kamuela facility

January Hotel Occupancy Drops to Four-year Low

SA: …Statewide hotel occupancy dropped to its lowest January level in four years, as every major Hawaii isle began the year with fewer occupied hotel rooms.

Statewide occupancy dropped 2.8 percentage points to 79.5 percent, according to a hotel report from STR, a data and analytics specialist. It was the lowest January occupancy since January 2015, when Hawaii hotels were 77.5 percent full.

The largest occupancy hits for the month were felt on Kauai, which experienced a 7.9 percentage point year-over-year decline, and Hawaii island, which plunged 6.9 percentage points. Maui’s occupancy dropped 4.1 percentage points and Oahu’s by half a percentage point.

read … Hawaii hotels kick off 2019 with soft start

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