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Saturday, March 30, 2019
March 30, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:30 PM :: 2511 Views

Court: OHA LLCs Subject to UIPA

Akina: OHA spending rate unsustainable

Complaint Filed in NRA-supported Challenge to Hawaii Concealed Carry Law

PEW: Hawaii Pension Fund Positioned to Withstand Next Recession

‘Backward budgeting’ wrong way to move forward

Honolulu Rail Cars Fail Fire Test

CB: … The trains’ manufacturer, Hitachi-owned Ansaldo Honolulu JV, had samples of the vehicles’ floor and roofing materials tested in February to make sure they complied with federal standards, according to Robert Good, a senior project officer for the rail project.

Those roofs and floors should be able to withstand fire for at least 20 minutes in order for passengers to evacuate, Good told the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board Friday. Instead, flames started to enter the sample passenger compartment at 14 minutes and 30 seconds — a clear failure….

HART executives said they need to be sure the cars are safe. Ansaldo “submitted these to us and we said, ‘No, it’s not acceptable,'” Murthy said.

It remains unclear whether the fire-test problem will affect the city’s goal to launch interim service along the rail line, from the fields east of Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, in December 2020.

For that to happen, HART will need 10 of its four-car trains ready to run, Murthy said. Currently, the agency has six four-car trains on-island, according to HART spokesman Bill Brennan.

“They don’t think it’ll be a problem, based on the conversations we’ve had so far,” Murthy said.  (Uh-huh.  Nothing to see here just move along….)

Ansaldo now plans to run further “small-scale” tests in April and then “large-scale” tests in May, Good said. The May tests will take place in Italy, where the train parts are being manufactured, and Ansaldo will cut up one of its existing car shells to provide the samples, he said.

If those tests have the same result as the test in Texas, then HART and Ansaldo will move to “Plan B,” Good said.

That could mean changing the style of fire-resistant coating applied to the cars, or installing extra plating under the carriages, he said. Murthy said HART would want to avoid making the cars heavier, if possible.

Good, who has more than 50 years of experience on rail projects, said he’s seen train cars fail fire tests before “but not so far along in the build.”

Ansaldo uses the same materials for its trains running in the Middle East and in Europe, so the train firm assumed the materials would work fine for Hawaii as well and didn’t see the need to run those tests sooner, Murthy said….

read … Honolulu Rail Cars Fail Fire Test

Contempt of Court: Judge issues stern warning to new City Prosecutor Nadamoto

HNN: … Circuit Court Judge Edward Kubo did not hold back in court Friday after the Honolulu prosecutor’s office ignored an order to turn over the personnel records of former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

“What you’re telling me is you did not bring it?” Kubo asked deputy Prosecutor Randy Oyama, who told the judge that those files were not given to him and he did not have access to them.

The case involves former Honolulu Police Sergeant Albert Lee. Lee’s subsidized vehicle crashed into a Hawaiian Electric Building in 2016.

Lee was found in the passenger seat. But the prosecutor’s office, specifically Kealoha’s Career Criminal Unit, took over the case….

Kau requested Kealoha’s personnel files months ago, and Kubo ordered them to turned over for review.

But on Friday — when that still hadn’t happened — he expressed his concerns.

“Something stinks in this case and something doesn’t size up,” Kubo said, asking Oyama who gave the order to try and quash the subpoena for the files.

Oyama answered, “Mr. Nadamoto.”…

Kau says that’s proof that Nadamoto and the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office is still protecting Kealoha.

“He’s following in the same footsteps as Mr Kaneshiro," Kau said. "You can’t keep continuing to disregard court orders whether its federal or state.”…

Kau had been trying to get her client’s case conflicted out to another agency for years. But Kaneshiro’s office refused.

It only got kicked over to the Kauai Prosecutor’s Office after Kaneshiro was forced to step aside.

Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney for Kauai County, issued a letter to Nadamoto after the judge’s scolding. It said: “The judge made it abundantly clear that the records are to be turned over.”

"Failure to turn them over will be regarded as contemptuous, if not worse.”

Kollar requested the files submitted by Monday, or his office would consider holding Nadamoto’s office in contempt of court….

read … ‘Bring it on’: Judge issues stern warning to city Prosecutor’s Office

Kealoha Attorney: Ken Lawson’s OJ Simpson Innocence project Defends other Criminals, What about mine?

HNN: … In a six-page letter to UH Law School Dean Avi Soifer, defense attorney Rustam Barbee targets associate faculty specialist Ken Lawson and questions his many statements to the media about the case against former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha, who has been indicted on dozens of counts.

Barbee contends that Lawson is improperly casting Kealoha as guilty before a trial is even underway.

“This is especially disturbing because Professor Lawson is co-director of the Richardson Law School’s Innocence Project, which seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals,” Barbee wrote.

“If HIP’s goal is to prevent innocent people from being convicted, Professor Lawson and the Richardson School of Law by association should not be in the business of publicly assigning guilt to a defendant before his or her trial is even held.”….

read … Birds of a Feather Fighting

SA Editorial: Pay raises Make Legislators Disconnected, Illogical

SA: … The commission now is recommending raises across the board: starting in 2021, state legislators would get at least a 10 percent raise; the governor and department heads would get 4-5 percent increases this year; and judges would get about a 1 percent annual raise.

Legislators are mandated to work through the annual 60-day session — but really, a raise to $74,160 in 2024 from today’s $62,604 for part-time work is overly generous, considering lawmakers can keep outside jobs and have no term limits….

Further, the salary-recommendation process has major flaws: The commission’s recommendation is an omnibus one, with the package of raises automatically adopted unless the Legislature moves to reject it. Good luck with that. And it’s an all-or-nothing situation, even though each branch of workers — legislative, executive and judicial — has its own distinct circumstances that should be considered separately.

Moving forward, wage inequity and living wages for the masses will loom larger than ever before. Meanwhile, the 2006 state law that set up the Salary Commission and its raise-recommendation process for Hawaii’s top officials gets increasingly disconnected and illogical….

read … Editorial: Pay raises too generous

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director to step down after failing to win Senate support

SA: … Jobie Masagatani will step down as director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands when the legislative session ends in May. Gov. David Ige has not announced who will replace her.

Ige, who won re-election in November, announced in January he was reappointing both Masagatani as director and William Aila as deputy director of DHHL. However, Masagatani struggled to gain the Senate votes needed to approve her confirmation, and her name was not submitted to the Senate for confirmation hearings by Friday’s deadline.

Aila is scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee for a hearing on his nomination before there is a final vote by the full Senate….

Masagatani has been director of DHHL and chairwoman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, which oversees the department, since May 2012, when she was first appointed by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Even if appointed to the post during Ige’s second term, by law she would have had to step down in May 2020 because of an eight-year limit on serving in the position….

Earlier this month Ford Fuchigami, Ige’s administrative director, said Masagatani was having a tough time obtaining the needed majority of votes in the Senate….

Masagatani was criticized by lawmakers in the past for not producing any new housing in fiscal year 2017 and closing out that year with $30 million in unspent federal housing funds.

Masagatani countered that the agency put its federal housing funds to good use paying for homeowner financing and infrastructure for homestead communities….

CB: Ige Decides Not To Renominate Two Cabinet Members

read … Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director to step down after failing to win Senate support

Proposal to curb Affordable Housing deemed to be ‘monster houses’ ready for final Honolulu City Council vote

SA: … A bill making it tougher for unscrupulous builders to construct large-scale houses won approval Thursday from the City Council Zoning Committee.

It now goes to the full Council for a final vote, likely at its April 17 meeting….

read … Proposal to curb ‘monster houses’ ready for final Honolulu City Council vote

Homeless Plans before funding (part 2)

SA: … Akin to putting a political cart before the horse, a City Council proposal wants to snag $21 million before knowing what it will be used for.

Councilwoman Kymberly Pine has submitted a city budget amendment to allot $2.3 million to each of Oahu’s nine Council members — nearly $21 million total — toward “bold” homelessness initiatives….

This dubious approach harkens back to two years ago, when the City Council passed a budget that included a similar move: $2 million for each Council member ostensibly to tackle district homelessness. Then-Council Chairman Ernie Martin proclaimed: “Every community on Oahu is dealing with homelessness but the particular issues differ by Council district, and the members need to take the lead by coordinating with the community stakeholders and city administration to execute a plan acceptable to all.”

As far as we can tell, however, little has resulted against homelessness despite the $18 million “community revitalization initiative.”

The proposed budget amendment is bad budgeting. Taxpayers first need to hear about Council members’ actual homelessness projects and ideas — before $2.3 million here and $2.3 million there add up to real money with vague accountability….

read … Plans before funding

Water Rights Bill Affects Many Small Farmers And Ranchers

CB: … Community activists Marti Townsend and Mehealani Wendt’s Community Voice “Lawmakers Should Reject A&B’s Water Rights Bill” is a very sad testament to how ignoring facts and fostering misconceptions will jeopardize the future of Hawaii agriculture and the beautiful expanses of green, open space that we all want to preserve.

We’d like to set the record straight. A bill moving through the Legislature, House Bill 1326, is not a complex bill and it’s not “A&B’s bill.” It is an absolutely necessary measure for the many farmers and ranchers throughout the islands who rely on state short-term water permits and whose livelihoods were put in limbo three years ago when, in litigation, the Department of Land and Natural Resources permit process was deemed to be flawed and these types of permits couldn’t be renewed.

As a result of this, permit holders were told by the state that they needed to apply for and obtain long-term water leases, despite insurmountable procedural obstacles and incalculable costs. Many of these water users are farmers and ranchers who are members of our organization, who have no other viable options for access to irrigation and livestock water and who will be forced to stop farming without access to this water….

read … Water Rights Bill Affects Many Small Farmers And Ranchers

Trump Budget Zeroes out OHA Cronies Cash Flow (again)

HNN: … President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2020 proposes $52 million in cuts to education programs that benefit Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans.

It’s the third year the president’s administration has zeroed out Native Hawaiian funding.

"I was alarmed to hear it again, having gone through this before. It’s just not right,' said Namaka Rawlins, director of strategic partnerships and collaborations for nonprofit Aha Punana Leo….

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who’s on the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the president’s budget “dead on arrival.”…

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs says these programs help the federal government meet its special trust responsibility owed to Native Hawaiians….

read …  Proposed cuts to funding for Native Hawaiian programs cause alarm

DOH: 2017 Mumps Epidemic Caused by Anti-Vaxxers

KGI: … “When we looked at the data just for Kauai, the average age of people getting mumps on Kauai was significantly lower than the statewide average,” Berreman said Friday. “The pattern we saw here is consistent with the data we’re seeing from the schools about exemption rates.”

Throughout the rest of the state, data shows it was mostly late teens and young adults being diagnosed with mumps.

On Kauai, reports of mumps cases were mostly from elementary-school-aged kids….

“That says the disease has gotten into unvaccinated populations and is spreading quickly in unvaccinated populations, which are likely to be younger school-aged people,” Berreman said.

All that goes to show that disease spreads more easily when there are pockets of a population with a high rate of unvaccinated people, health officials say….

Background:  Where the Anti-Vaxxers are -- March 22, 2019

read … DOH: exemptions, outbreaks linked

9th Circuit Moves Dopers Closer to Winning Right to Drive Forklift

DTL:  … The plaintiff applied for a job as a Receiver/Forklift Operator with Armstrong Produce but was not hired. He alleged that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. After he received a conditional offer of employment, he was advised that he was required to pass an on-site drug test. He disclosed to the Human Resources Director that he was registered under Hawaii’s Medical Cannabis Program and presented a copy of his medical marijuana certification card. The H.R. Director stated that if he tested positive on the drug test, the employment offer would be withdrawn. Plaintiff allegedly stated that he understood that the job offer would be “taken off the table” if he failed the drug test. Subsequently, the job offer was withdrawn even though the drug test was not conducted….

The Court dismissed the failure to accommodate claim because it was not clear what accommodation was sought by Plaintiff. However, the Court gave Plaintiff leave to replead this claim.

The lesson for employers is this: although it may seem reasonable to assume that an applicant who possesses a medical marijuana card actually uses marijuana, the adverse employment action should be based on something more, such as a positive drug test result or an admission of drug use (assuming, of course, that applicable state law does not prohibit discrimination against medical marijuana users)….

read ...  Possession Of A Medical Marijuana Card Alone Does Not Prove Marijuana Use, Appeals Court Holds

Incident at Work Results in Lack of Staff, Closures of Transfer Stations

HTH: … Environmental Management’s announcement about Friday’s reduction in transfer station accessibility was the third of its kind in less than three months. The Pahala station was closed early last Friday for the same reason, while the Keei station wrapped up business hours prematurely in the beginning of January because of a lack of staff. Both of those early closures also took place on Fridays.

Michael Kaha, deputy chief of the Solid Waste Division, said Friday’s issue was because of an incident that occurred earlier in the week, which affected multiple personnel. The previous two closures, however, were more sudden.

“I believe that we have the amount of people that we need to be at work,” he said. “I think the struggle is always going to be people not showing up to work. The issue is when they call in sick.” …

read … Staff shortages cause closure of several transfer stations

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