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Friday, April 12, 2019
April 12, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:21 PM :: 1533 Views

ILWU Executive Charged with Embezzlement

Hawaii Tax Freedom Day is April 23rd

NRA Seeks 'Immediate Injunction' Against Hawaii Gun Laws

Hawaii Butterfly Knife Ban Challenged on Second Amendment Grounds

Hirono: If Conservatives Don’t Want Content Removed From Social Media ‘They Shouldn’t Post Lies’

Want higher wages? Try economic freedom

Honolulu Council Special Election Voting Ends Saturday April 13

Feds Demand City Pony up $111M for Rail--No Money Beyond Middle Street Until P3 Settled

SA: …The FTA also wants to get a better estimate of the cost of completing the last 4.1 miles of rail line through the dense city center, and said in a March 29 letter it will not resume funding the rail project until it has a clearer picture of the price tag for that work….

HART had expected to receive the first $100 million increment of that federal funding by the middle of this year, but the FTA is still raising some concerns about the project.

Ray Tellis, regional administrator for the FTA’s Region IX, noted in the March 29 letter that HART, in its most recent recovery plan, reduced the near-term contributions by the city to the rail project.

Under the latest HART plan, a total contribution of only $15 million in city funds would be required over the next six fiscal years, Tellis wrote. The city would then begin making larger contributions of $24 million to $26 million per year to the rail project during the six years from fiscal 2026 to 2031.

The FTA concluded that a backloaded schedule of city contributions “adds risk to the ability of the project sponsor to finish the project” because the city also will be required to begin providing money to operate and maintain the rail line as fiscal year 2031 approaches.

(Translation: FTA demands City bump it up from $15M to $111M over next 6 yrs.)

HART is projecting that rail’s annual operating and maintenance costs will range from $127 million to $144 million when the entire 20-mile system opens in 2026.

Tellis also noted in the letter that HART expects to award a contract for a public-private partnership in late January to complete the rail line, and that the cost of the public-private partnership, or so-called P3 contract, will be spelled out then. HART has said construction of the city center portion of the rail project will cost about $1.4 billion.

FTA will not release the extra $744 million in federal funding “until the cost of the procurement is identified, and HART can demonstrate its financial ability to fund the contract within its existing financial plan,” Tellis wrote.

HART has been developing a very detailed cost estimate for that last segment of rail that should be finished later this month, and Robbins (trying to suppress a giggle) said he hopes that will satisfy the FTA and allow for release of the next increment of federal funding before January….

The Federal Transit Administration is requiring the city to accelerate its cash contributions to the Honolulu rail project by switching to this fiscal year schedule:

  • 2020 $25M
  • 2021 $26M
  • 2022 $21M
  • 2023 $17M
  • 2024 $12M
  • 2025 $10M
  • 2026 $5M
  • 2027 $1M

​Coverage:

read … Federal agency demands more answers on Honolulu rail costs and faster city contributions

Ige supports giving water permit holders more time

MN: … Gov. David Ige is in favor of giving all revocable water permit holders more time to seek long-term leases from the state, rather than possibly leaving them dry at the end of the year.

When asked about his position on contentious House Bill 1326 that would extend the short-term lease process, the governor did not single out Alexander & Baldwin for permit exclusion as an amended version of the bill had proposed.

Ige made his comments Thursday in Waiohuli prior to the blessing/groundbreaking for a program where Maui inmates will build a home for a Native Hawaiian family in a Hawaiian Homes subdivision….

There still is about a month before the state Legislature ends.

“I think the law is pretty clear and our agencies were testifying in support (of the original bill) because we know that not all permitees will be able to complete the process by the end of the year,” Ige said Thursday.

“We recognize that there is a lot of work to be done. People don’t realize that we have not ever issued water leases in the state,” he added.

The state is working diligently on a “brand new process,” Ige said, noting that some things take time.

When asked if he supported HB 1326, Ige replied that “obviously it has been amended several times.” He said more time is needed to establish the long-term lease process.

Ige said one of the things that has been lost in the battle over HB 1326 is that the state has “been very proactively” managing water resources. He pointed to the establishment of in-stream flow standards in East Maui by the state water commission….

read … Ige supports giving water permit holders more time

Legislators Advance HB1248 as Vote-by-Mail Problems Multiply

SA: …  The Council race should be decided, finally, on Saturday. A rematch from 2014 and a contentious battle to the end, it is itself vote-by-mail: a high-profile, high-interest contest, with every flaw playing out beneath the Klieg lights. And there have been anecdotal reports of double ballots — or no ballots — being mailed in some cases.

This is only for a single Council district. It’s reasonable to assume potential problems multiplying when mail-in balloting expands to the full island of Kauai next year — and ultimately to the entire state, if House Bill 1248 is enacted.

HB 1248, which now is destined for a conference committee, went through some useful changes in its Senate review, not the least of which was a delay from 2020 to 2022 for the statewide vote-by-mail conversion. That delay seems almost essential, enabling any kinks exposed in the Kauai pilot project to be worked out. Some, including a need to improve the accuracy of the voter registry, are already apparent.

This is only one of the election-related proposals pending at the state Capitol. The other bills:

>> Senate Bill 427 would establish “ranked choice voting,” sometimes called “instant recount voting,” but only for special federal elections and special elections for vacant county seats. It might not even be a good idea for this limited roll-out.

Essentially this voting procedure addresses the frequent need for runoff elections in races with numerous candidates, as none generally will finish the first round of voting with a simple majority. It directs the voter to rank their selections in order. Subordinate choices would be factored into the tally until one of the candidates emerges above the 50% threshold.

This assumes people make a knowledgeable choice for second- or third-ranked candidates, and beyond. That is likely not the case — it’s easy to imagine the overwhelmed voter simply ranking the also-rans fairly randomly, with little or no basis. The hope is that voting would be, at a minimum, a rational enterprise….

Cataluna: Endless campaign is finally near its end

read … Problems

While Honest Citizens 2nd Amendment Rights are Restricted, Shooters Walk Again and Again—Here’s How

HNN: … A number of law enforcement personnel say they are increasingly frustrated to see violent criminals being released on probation or getting soft sentences.

Defense attorney and former prosecutor Victor Bakke says Hawaii’s sentencing laws have a troublesome gap and it often pushes prosecutors to go after lesser charges.

For example, Richard Lam is accused of shooting a man twice in the leg in Kalihi last month.

Walter Gomes III is accused of shooting a woman in the face last month on the Big Island and evading police for 12-days.

Both men are charged with assault.

Why not attempted murder?

“The problem with the attempted murder charge is that the government has to prove intent to kill – and that is often a very difficult thing to prove,” said Bakke….

Bakke says if the victim doesn’t die, prosecutors are left with two options: attempted murder or assault.

"You have somebody shooting somebody and the range of the sentence is anywhere from probation to life,” Bakke said….

read … Frustration over 2 shooting suspects in Hawaii charged with assault

Senate panel rejects reappointment of Nolan Espinda as Hawaii’s public safety director

CB: … A senate committee voted today against reappointing Nolan Espinda as director of the Department of Public Safety, citing last month’s riot at the Maui jail, recent shootings of an Oahu jail inmate and homeless man, detention of prisoners beyond their release dates and an alleged culture of retaliation and intimidation within the department.

The vote by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs is advisory, but a clear sign that Espinda’s confirmation is in trouble. The full Senate is expected to take a decisive vote on Espinda’s confirmation sometime next week.

The four Democratic senators on the committee voted in favor of Sen. Clarence Nishihara’s recommendation that Espinda not be reappointed. Sen. Kurt Fevella, the lone Republican on the committee and in the Senate, also voted in favor of Nishihara’s recommendation, but did so by mistake. He meant to vote in support of Espinda’s reappointment….

Ige reiterated his support for Espinda in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon. Ige cited Espinda’s reduction of overtime hours, increases in inmate visitation hours and better services for parolees….

SA: Senate panel against Espinda

read … Senate panel rejects reappointment of Nolan Espinda as Hawaii’s public safety director

Kauai: Entire System Comes Down on Whistleblower

KGI: … A Fifth Circuit Court judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former firefighter, alleging his supervisors in the Kauai Fire Department threatened and retaliated against him for testifying about their alleged misconduct….

According to Emura, when his two immediate supervisors found out about his testimony they started filing complaints and writing him up for “every little thing.” Emura said he was subjected to frequent drug tests and claimed one of the supervisors told coworkers Emura had “stabbed him in the back” and planned to quit scheduling him for overtime.

The lawsuit says Emura developed a stress-related disability due to the hostile workplace environment, which forced him to file a workers compensation claim and take a leave of absence, which ultimately led to his termination from the department a year later.

In an interview Thursday, Emura said he decided to sue the KFD and his supervisors after attempts to resolve the issue in-house failed. The Hawaii Government Employees Association refused to pursue Emura’s dispute with KFD leadership through arbitration, and inquiries into the matter of misappropriated KFD resources turned up nothing substantial.

An internal KFD investigation into the allegations of firefighter misconduct found no wrongdoing on behalf of its employees, and the county ethics board reached a similar conclusion….

Emura maintains that both investigations were questionable at best and said the ethics board’s inquiries consisted of nothing more than a handful of interviews with the firefighters involved.

A separate, nearly-identical lawsuit was filed in 2014 by Carl Ragasa, a former coworker of Emura’s, who sued the department and his supervisors in federal court, alleging he was the target of “a campaign of retaliatory harassment.”

Ragasa also claimed he was subjected to retaliation after reporting misconduct by the same two KFD supervisors named in Emura’s lawsuit, alleging they used KFD equipment to run their side business, stole gas from the department, used drugs on the job and falsified time sheets. That case was ultimately settled before trial for an undisclosed amount in 2016.

Emura’s civil claim, although filed two years prior to Ragasa’s, languished in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court for years. According to Emura, the case was delayed in part by his own attorney, who he said was less than enthusiastic and abandoned him entirely five years into pretrial litigation….

read … Crushed into Dust

State housing project combines juvenile offenders and affordable housing; raises concerns

HNN: … An affordable housing project in Kakaako is moving forward as planned. On Thursday, the state housing agency gave preliminary approval to allocate $15 million towards building it.

Not everyone is on board. The project at 902 Alder Street is already used to house juvenile offenders. Some neighbors worry they'll mix with the incoming apartment residents. …

Bottom floors will house juvenile offenders. 200 affordable housing units will be above that. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) collaborated with the Judiciary on this….

"HHFDC has been identifying aging and/or underutilized buildings on state land that can be redeveloped into mixed-use projects that would be a more efficient use of the State’s resources," a HHFDC spokesperson says. "With Alder Street, the Judiciary can replace aging offices and HHFDC can add 200 more units to the affordable inventory. The building’s design would separate the Judiciary’s shelter and offices from the housing units, which would serve families earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income."…

read … What could go wrong?

Ex-Maui inmate gets $10K in sex assault lawsuit settlement

AP: … The woman was in a work furlough program in 2014 that allowed her to leave the Maui jail during the day. Former corrections officer James Siugpiyemal threatened to remove her from the program if she didn't comply with his demands for sex, the lawsuit said.

She secretly recorded one of the encounters in her car, which was played at his 2017 trial. A jury found him guilty of sex assault. He's scheduled to be released from prison in 2026. A parole consideration hearing is scheduled for 2021…. 

MN: MCCC inmate sexually assaulted by guard settles

read … Ex-Maui inmate gets $10K in sex assault lawsuit settlement

Substitute Teacher Will Study for Marriage Counselor License While in Jail on Revenge Porn Conviction

HTH: A 53-year-old Hilo man was ordered to report to jail Thursday to serve a six-month term he was sentenced to in October for engaging in so-called “revenge porn” against a woman with whom he had a prior sexual relationship.

Gregory William Payne pleaded no contest June 25 to first-degree violation of privacy, a Class C felony. In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor charges of trespassing on public school grounds and impersonating a public servant.

… On Jan. 1, 2016, Payne, then a substitute teacher, engaged in consensual sex with the woman on the grounds of E.B. de Silva Elementary School outside school hours. He also photographed the woman during the encounter without her permission while she was blindfolded.

Payne then signed the name of a Department of Education official on a letter written on DOE letterhead and sent it to a professional associate of the woman — and included a photo or photos of the sexual encounter….

The judge also allowed the Hilo-born Payne — who had no prior criminal record — to delay reporting for his jail sentence until Jan. 15, then allowed Payne another delay until Thursday so he could “sit for exams,” according to court records.

On Thursday, Payne’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sherilyn Tavares, asked the judge to once again consider delaying the start of Payne’s jail term or to allow Payne to serve his sentence on weekends “until he takes the exam.” Upon questioning by Nakamoto, Tavares said Payne — who was ordered by the court to undergo mental health treatment — is studying “marriage and family counseling.”

“He’s completed all his clinical hours with Hilo Counseling Center, so he’s … just waiting,” Tavares said, for a date to take the licensing exam….

“The victim in this case has a right to see the sentence being closed and not dragged on forever,” Damerville said. “It’s been dragged on for a long time. He can study for his exam while he’s in jail.”….

read … About someone who would like to help your wife with difficulties

Teacher in Ewa Elementary’s A-plus program indicted in sexual assault of former student

SA: … An Ewa Elementary School A-plus teacher is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old former student.

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment today charging Jordan Cortez with eight counts of sexual assault.

Circuit Judge Shirley Kawamura set Cortez’s bail at $75,000….

Deputy Prosecutor Loren Haugen told Kawamura that Cortez has known the girl since she was 8 years old, when he was her second-grade A-plus teacher. The girl was in the eighth grade when Cortez is accused of sexually assaulting her between October and December 2016…. 

SA: YMCA reveals details about former employee accused of sexual assault

read … Another One

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