Hawaii Senators’ Favorite Mafia Hitman Loses Home to Foreclosure
Gallup: Trump Approval 26% in Hawaii—Lowest in USA
Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time
Hawaii Small Businesses Speak out Against Minimum Wage Hike
Conservationists Demand Half-Billion Reparations for Dead Hawaiian Tree Snail
Hawaiian Electric Claims 27% Renewable Despite Loss of Geothermal Plant
Allison Lee Wong: Meet Katherine Kealoha’s Imaginary Friend
HNN: …Federal investigators allege an imaginary person played an integral role in the rise of a former Honolulu power couple, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a former deputy city prosecutor wife. That same imaginary person could now play a part in their downfall.
Allison Lee Wong was Katherine Kealoha’s alleged alias.
And in recently-filed court documents, federal prosecutors outline Wong’s extensive paper trail ― and how the alias is linked to a number of the crimes the Kealohas are alleged to have committed.
“Alison Lee Wong is the ever-versatile alias Katherine Kealoha calls upon to dodge scrutiny, forge documents, secure state Senate confirmation, and more,” prosecutors wrote, in the documents,
“Indeed, the truth about Wong, alone, could irreversibly damage the Kealohas’ professional reputations and subject them to immediate scrutiny. This is because ‘Alison’ played a prominent — even public — role in the Kealohas’ rise to power, and also appeared in all the underlying segments of fraud committed by the Kealohas.”
Federal prosecutors had to unpack Wong for the court because attorneys for the Kealohas argued that the alias was immaterial to the allegations against the couple.
The first federal case involving the two is set to kick off next month, and will be focused on alleged financial crimes….
read … Meet Allison Lee Wong: Court filings outline alleged role of alias in case against Kealohas
Bill to raise Hawaii minimum wage to $15 by 2023 advances
PBN: …The head of the local chapter of the small business lobbying organization NFIB said the state Legislature’s move to raise Hawaii's minimum wage to $15 by 2023 is coming at the wrong time.
The Senate’s Ways and Means committee passed Senate Bill 789 on Monday, setting it up for a final vote on the Senate floor.
The bill would raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $12 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020, then to $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2023. The current minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10 per hour; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, unchanged since 2009.
SB789 also provides for a tax credit for employers of 20 percent of the total hourly wages paid to employees, up to $50,000, that can be carried over to future tax years….
The Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Maui Chamber of Commerce, Hawaiian Chip Co. owner Jimmy Chan and the Hawaii Food Industry Association, along with the NFIB, submitted testimony opposing the increase in the minimum wage….
read … Bill to raise Hawaii minimum wage to $15 by 2023 advances
SB557: Hawaii ‘sanctuary state’ status moves forward at Legislature
HNN: …In testimony, the state Attorney General’s Office said the measure would undoubtedly subject the islands to “closer scrutiny by the federal government,” and potentially result in losses or delays in federal funding.
The Honolulu Police Department also raised concerns about threats to funding.
“Senate Bill 557 is founded on the incorrect premise that local law enforcement acts at the request of federal immigration officials in the execution of its duties,” said Acting Maj. Mark Cricchio, in testimony.
“Further, Senate Bill 557 pits federal law enforcement against local law enforcement and places police in the difficult position of having to choose between obeying state law or federal law.”….
The Big Island Police Department called the measure “extremely onerous.”….
read … Hawaii ‘sanctuary state’ status moves forward at Legislature
Hawaii Senate moves closer to state retirement savings program
HNN: … Senate Bill 1374 cleared the Ways and Means committee on Monday, but has not yet been scheduled for final passage in the chamber.
The bill, which passed the Labor, Culture and the Arts committee on Feb. 7, would establish an automatic individual retirement account, or IRA, program for private-sector employees similar to the Oregon Saves program that has some 60,000 participants who have saved nearly $14 million since the program launched in July 2017. A similar bill failed to pass the Legislature during last year's session.
A similar bill is moving through the House, although House Bill 1189 would require a study on establishing such a plan, which would be presented to the Legislature next year….
The Hawaii Bankers Association and NAIFA Hawaii, an insurance industry organization, submitted testimony in opposition of the bill, citing potential competition with the private financial sector….
The investments themselves would be managed by a private company, while the state would be responsible for the procurement of the investment firm's services…
read … Hawaii Senate moves closer to state retirement savings program
Despite some big objections, bill to ban single-use plastics in Hawaii moves forward
HNN: … On Tuesday, the Senate Ways and Means committee passed SB522, which calls for an outright ban of single-use plastic products including plastic food packaging, single-use beverage containers like plastic water and juice bottles, and utensils.
The goal of the measure is to virtually eliminate single-use plastics from the islands ….
But not everyone is on board with the proposed ban.
In testimony submitted, various small businesses and local restaurants have voiced opposition to the ban, saying transition to alternative products would be too costly.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources also voiced concerns over the bill, saying they appreciate the measure’s intent, but it should be amended to allow plastics during emergencies and natural disasters.
It’s also unclear how the measure would affect recycling centers that dedicate a good chunk of operations to recycling plastic bottles.
The bill now goes up for a full Senate floor vote….
KHON: Lawmakers discuss aggressive new proposal on banning plastic usage
read … Despite some big objections, bill to ban single-use plastics in Hawaii moves forward
5% water rate hike expected
WHT: …Water rates are expected to go up 5 percent this year in a $55.7 million Department of Water Supply budget that got a preliminary nod Tuesday from the Water Board.
The board unanimously agreed to forward the budget, which would go into effect July 1, to a March 19 public hearing in Kona before setting it for two more votes. The budget is a 3 percent increase over this year.
Most of the increase is attributed to the cost of employees, said Manager/Chief Engineer Keith Okamoto. Not only is there a 3 percent increase for the department’s 191 union employees, there’s an increase in the employee’s retirement fund of anywhere from 19 percent to 22 percent, he said. The department plans to add six new positions….
read … 5% water rate hike expected
How effective is the city's park protection plan?
KITV: … The city claims its park protection program is a success, where tens of thousands of dollars are spent every month to safeguard bathrooms and other park facilities. Some would argue, grounds may be better protected but they are still under-used because residents doesn't feel any safer where homeless have taken over parks….
"At times it is frustrating because they tell us to move here, then they tell us to move out. I think it is not fair," said homeless residents Edgar DeLamontanye (who refuses to accept shelter)…
According to a city spokesman, there has been a marked drop in vandalism at parks with patrols, but it comes at a cost of about $1,500 per day.
Only a few people could be found reading or relaxing in parks Tuesday afternoon. The grassy grounds were largely empty, except for the homeless.
Several park users did tell us they noticed a little improvement in the cleanliness of the grounds since the city program began a few months ago. …
MN: 113 individuals complete residential substance abuse treatment program
read … How effective is the city's park protection plan?
Retired Officer Sues: Right to Concealed-Carry
HTH: … According to the indictment, on Jan. 26, 2017, Rodrigues threatened Nathan Figueroa with a firearm.
Police say they responded to Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision at about 10 a.m. that day on the report of “gunshots fired.” According to police, they contacted a group near where the shots were reported and determined that although firearms were involved in a confrontation, no shots were fired.
Rodrigues was arrested on suspicion of three counts of terroristic threatening and six firearms offenses, police said, but was later released pending further investigation.
Rodrigues sued the county and then-Capt. Samuel Jelsma, who has since been promoted to major, claiming Rodrigues’ civil rights were violated and he was defamed by the department, which issued a media release even though charges weren’t filed at the time.
In Rodrigues’ suit, filed first in Hilo Circuit Court but later moved to U.S. District Court in Honolulu, he claims he was threatened by Wesley Kaimana “Mana” Brooks, whom Rodrigues said fired a shot at him with a 9 mm handgun.
Rodrigues alleges that when Jelsma arrived on scene, he directed officers, with Rodrigues’ permission, to search his truck for firearms. Officers recovered a Remington shotgun and Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun from the truck. Rodrigues claims that, as a retired police officer in good standing, he is legally authorized to concealed carry under the 2004 federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA.
The suit, which is still active, also alleges Brooks had stalked Rodrigues’ son, and his son had filed three police reports, including one alleging Brooks had made a death threat against Rodrigues’ son while brandishing an AK-47 and a 9 mm handgun, but police refused to investigate….
2018: Retired Hawaii County PD Sues Over Arrest
read … Concealed Carry
Multinational Solar Company Targets Hawai`i Prime Agricultural Land
IM: … Ho'ohana Solar 1, LLC is owned by FCHQC Development, LLC which is owned by 174 Power Global Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of the South Korean Hanwha Group. The company wants to build a commercial-scale photovoltaic solar facility on prime agricultural land along Kunia Road between Waipahu and Wahiawa.
There are 1.85 million acres of agriculturally-zoned land in the State. Of this, 97% is zoned B, C, D, or E. Commercial-scale solar can be installed on these lands.
Agricultural Lands of Importance to the State of Hawaii (ALISH) or prime agriculturally-zoned land represents just 3% of all ag land. Commercial solar is not allowed on these lands.
Ho'ohana Solar signed a contract to sell electricity with HECO. The application is currently being reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission. Ho'ohana Solar refused to answer questions asked by the Consumer Advocate. The Commission was forced to file an order compelling the answers.
Ho'ohana Solar is asking the 2019 Hawai`i State Legislature to change the law, to open the door, to start down the slippery slope to industrializing prime agricultural land …
SA: Indigenous Agriculture is the way
read … Multinational Solar Company Targets Hawai`i Prime Agricultural Land
Thanks to Trump, Courts No Longer offer Enviros Path to Glory
CB: … In 2015, U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway found the CWA did apply to the injection wells. The petitioners were then able to reach a potential agreement with the county later that year whereby if Maui doesn’t win the case on appeal, the county would pay $2.6 million in penalties with $2.5 million of that money going to divert the effluent.
On appeal, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold Mollway’s ruling.
At the heart of the 9th Circuit decision was this conclusion: “this case is about preventing the County from doing indirectly that which it cannot do directly. The County could not under the CWA build an ocean outfall to dispose of pollutants directly into the Pacific Ocean without an NPDES permit. It cannot do so indirectly either to avoid CWA liability. To hold otherwise would make a mockery of the CWA’s prohibitions.”
But to borrow from the court’s reasoning, it’s concerning the petitions are doing indirectly that which they could not do directly: go to the EPA to have the clean water regulations amended to clearly include injection wells. I don’t believe it was the intent of Congress to include injection wells or similar actions in the CWA….
I think it’s tempting the fates to employ the courts to make law where that authority is clearly reserved for the legislative branch. The real danger of judicial activism by liberal courts today is that it weakens the ability for progressives to rail against judicial activism by conservative courts tomorrow.
And with a tidal wave of right-leaning judicial appointees being confirmed under the Trump administration, liberals need to think hard about messages they are sending to federal courts….
Regardless of who wins at the Supreme Court, Hawaii loses.
If the lower court decision is upheld, applying the CWA to wastewater injection wells across Hawaii would create more regulatory gridlock for the Hawaii Department of Health and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades and/or fines.
A reversal at the Supreme Court means the County of Maui can continue to inject effluent into the well, continuing its adverse impact on the coastal environment. No one wins.
A best-case scenario at this point would be a settlement whereby Maui agrees to upgrade the treatment plant and reclaim as much of the non-potable effluent produced for reuse in West Maui….
SA: Vigilance in safeguarding Hawaii’s near-shore ecosystems from land-based sources of pollution will fall squarely on county and state governments.
read … This Maui Fight Doesn’t Belong In The Supreme Court
SPLC Hate Map Names Five in Hawaii
CB: …The Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest hate map reveals that Hawaii is home to no less than five hate groups: one white nationalist, two black nationalist and two categorized under “general hate.”….
Beirich said a Hawaii hate group first showed up on the SPLC’s radar in 2017: the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge. The group was not listed operating in Hawaii in 2018, and Beirich said black Hebrew Israelites, as they are known, tend to “float” from group to group….
The Israelite School is described by SPCL as black nationalist, as are two of the five hate groups for Hawaii, specifically in Honolulu: Great Millstone and Israel United in Christ….
I did find a Facebook page for an Israel United in Christ chapter in Hawaii. An email to IUIC was not returned, nor was a phone message left with someone identified as “Bishop Nathanyel.”…
I couldn’t find much on The Right Stuff, either, the white nationalist group said to exist in Hawaii. But I am told they have chapters (or “pool parties,” as they are known) all over the country….
I had better luck searching online for the Proud Boys, thanks to a 2018 article — “Proud Boys in Paradise: Trump and Tribalism in Hawaii” — by Harrison Patino, a journalism student at the University of Hawaii Manoa. The article’s focus is Nick Ochs, a fellow UH journalism student who is president of a Proud Boys chapter in Hawaii….
I managed to reach Nick Ochs this week and asked him about the SPLC report. He flatly dismissed it — “We are not a hate group,” he said — and told me his wife is black and that the Proud Boys “have many black, white members, any race you can think of … gay members.”…
Ochs did describe the Proud Boys as “a drinking club that likes Trump.” He also said many faculty and students at UH are “very leftist.”
Ochs made headlines in the UH Manoa student newspaper, Ka Leo, last fall, when he invited two speakers from the Turning Point USA to a talk billed as “Free Speech Comes to UH” and a panel called “White Privilege is a Myth: Change My Mind.”
Turning Point USA bills itself as an advocate of free markets and limited government. But SPLC said it has a “blooming romance with the alt-right.”
After our phone call Tuesday, Ochs sent me a more “polished” quote via email:
“The SPLC is a hard left advocacy group that exists to slander conservatives. The only people that use them as a source anymore are activists disguised as journalists.
“They have been learning the hard way that libel is illegal with all the recent lawsuits they are facing, or have already lost. The SPLC doesn’t care about facts. Forget the politics, they can’t even get the number of chapters we have right. There is only one Proud Boys Hawaii and we welcome all races and sexual preferences.
“Making fun of leftists isn’t hate. But if you do that, that’s what leftists will call it.”
KITV: Who's behind anti-Hawaiian stickers on Oahu's North Shore?
read … SPLC Hate