Deadline: HART 'Pleased' that city received P3 submittals
UH requesting second round of public hearings for Maunakea administrative rules
City adopts new affordable housing rules
Activists hurt farmers by fueling public’s disconnect with modern agriculture
HART board chair under federal investigation — but it’s not about the rail project
HNN: … The FBI is investigating the local electrical workers’ and plumbers’ unions over a $6 million investment in a private company, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Back in December, FBI agents subpoenaed the financial records and board meeting minutes of the IBEW Local 1186 and the Plumbers & Fitters union, Local 675.
Local 1186 is headed by Damien Kim, who also serves as the chairman of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
There is an ongoing federal investigation into the project, but the investigation into the union situation is happening independently of any investigation into rail.
Sources said the feds want to know why Kim and Reginald Castanares, the former leader of the plumber’s union, each invested $3 million in union funds into a company called Pegasus LLC….
He added that union officials on the private company’s board aren’t paid by Pegasus, which the unions helped form in 2010. He said Pegasus has saved union members a lot of money.
The company provides discounts on banking and financial services, air fares and even movie tickets for members of the IBEW, the plumbers and other unions.
Investigative reporter and political watchdog Ian Lind said these kinds of services are usually handled in-house. He said using a third-party, private company can hide how union money is being used.
“The way it’s structured leaves a lot to the imagination, it leaves a lot of wiggle room if there were someone putting their own interest above the union’s interest,” Lind said.
He said lack of disclosure has led to legal troubles for other local labor leaders in the past. For instance, former UPW head Gary Rodrigues was convicted of embezzlement in 2002….
read … HART board chair under federal investigation — but it’s not about the rail project
Hawaiʻi Farmers, Ranchers Lobby for Water Bill
HPR: Farmers and ranchers from across the state met with Governor David Ige and legislators today in an attempt to revive a contentious water rights bill. The group says without House Bill 1326, hundreds of Hawaiʻi’s farmers and ranchers would lose their access to water at the end of the year….
Water that Farias and dozens of Hawaiʻi farmers and ranchers could lose when permits run out in December. For Farias that means uncertainty.
“And uncertainty means no profitability. Weʻll have to eventually close the ranch without water.”
Farmers and ranchers from Kauaʻi, Maui, and the Big Island converged on the State Capitol to ask Ige and Hawaiʻi lawmakers for help. One solution is to revive House Bill 1326, a measure extending water permits another seven years….
At one point, retired Big Island farmer Richard Ha stormed off saying “You don’t even care!”
“I don’t think the Legislature cares about farmers,” says Ha, “We’re just flabbergasted. We cannot believe that it’s such a simple thing. Just go ahead and do it!”…
“If we don’t get something passed, the Governor doesn’t do something administratively, then the possibility of us having no water at the end of the year, it’s there,” says Cabral….
read … Hawaiʻi Farmers, Ranchers Lobby for Water Bill
Administrator in charge of DPS training programs accused of lying on her resume
HNN: … Hawaii News Now has been working for months to verify Martinez’s resumes and applications, particularly the parts that concern her education.
In one document, Martinez lists says she obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts from Southern Oregon State College, now called Southern Oregon University.
Hawaii News Now received an email from the enrollment services team at the University said they could not find any record indicating Martinez had obtained a degree from the institution.
Another document lists a degree from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine ― but in another email, school officials said they “could not find a J. Marte Martinez in the database.”…
An online report by the Daily Emerald ― a news site for students in Eugene, Oregon ― also details an incident in which a Lieutenant Marte Martinez, with the Oregon public safety department, was placed on leave for an undisclosed reason while internal affairs looked into the “questionable status” of the lieutenant.
That article was posted in November of 2000. J. Marte Martinez’s resume shows she worked for that department between May 1999 and January 2001….
Her unit is also holding onto dozens of less-than-lethal guns and pepper ball guns ― weapons that deputies want on patrol but are not allowed to use.
The state Department of Public Safety says a criminal background suitability check and an employment verification check was completed without any issues, but the verification process regarding education is supposed to be done by the Department of Human Resources.
read … Administrator in charge of DPS training programs accused of lying on her resume
Deputy Prosecutor Futa Says She Never Got Target Letter
CB: … The stories, which played out for months, often were accompanied by a large on-air graphic with photos of Kaneshiro, Sapolu and Futa, among other suspects in the probe.
Sapolu fairly quickly acknowledged that he had indeed received a subject letter and announced he was stepping aside until the case was resolved.
But Kaneshiro and Futa remained silent, despite growing calls for the elected prosecutor to level with the public about what the heck was going on in his office. Then in February, after the state attorney general started legal proceedings to have him removed from office, Kaneshiro’s attorney finally conceded his client had indeed gotten a target letter.
In that same Feb. 12 press conference, attorney Bill McCorriston also revealed that Futa had never gotten any sort of letter. He chastised reporters in the room for continuing to report that error.
The consequences of that mistake are coming home to roost. This week, defense attorneys in an unrelated case moved to have Futa disqualified as the prosecutor in their case because she was the subject of a federal investigation. As evidence, the attorneys submitted copies of Hawaii News Now and Honolulu-Star Advertiser stories naming Futa.
“The (deputy prosecuting attorney) received neither a ‘subject letter’ nor a ‘target letter’ relating to any federal investigation,” Futa wrote in a court filing opposing her removal from the case….
HNN: Hawaii News Now obtained Futa’s written declaration Monday by searching through her pending cases. She has still never contacted Hawaii News Now directly, despite multiple requests. The defense attorneys have withdrawn their motion to remove her from the pending case.
read … Futa
Trevor Ozawa vs. Tommy Waters: Round 3 of Honolulu City Council fight ends tonight
SA: … A staggering 32,760 votes had been cast as of 4 p.m. Friday — 32,274 mail-in ballots and 486 in-person votes cast. That’s nearly 52 percent of the 63,392 ballots sent out to eligible voters in the district, which runs from Hawaii Kai to Ala Moana.
In the November general election, 39,613 votes were tabulated, including 2,909 blank votes and 10 “overvotes.” In November 2014, 37,718 votes were counted, including blank votes and overvotes.
The 32,760 votes cast so far in Ozawa-Waters III also far outpace the tallies in the four other special elections held to replace Council members since the current procedure was put in place in the early 2000s.
After Todd Apo resigned in 2010, a mere 12,610 votes were cast by constituents of Council District 1. That’s a turnout of 23.4 percent. Tom Berg won that West Oahu seat over 13 other candidates, with 2,326 votes….
read … Trevor Ozawa vs. Tommy Waters: Round 3 of Honolulu City Council fight ends tonight
3 percent Maui council salary hike lacks the votes
MN: … The commission charged with determining compensation for county leaders rejected pay raises for council members during a meeting Friday — after having earlier approved 3 percent cost-of-living increases for county department directors and deputies.
With only six of the nine members present, the Maui County Salary Commission did not approve 3 percent raises for council members. The vote was 3-2 in favor (with the chair not voting), but five votes were required for passage per commission rules.
The same panel approved 3 percent raises for directors and deputy directors in December; those took effect Jan. 1.
Four council members and one former council member testified in person and in writing Friday, noting the long hours required for the job and refuting what they said was a long-held misconception that council members are part-time employees.
“It’s definitely not a part-time job, and I knew it wasn’t a part-time job”said Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura, who did not voice a position on increases or decreases. “I knew (as soon as) I couldn’t go to Foodland to go shopping in what I call my boro-boro clothes because people would stop me and ask me to help them with different issues….
read … 3 percent council salary hike lacks the votes
Councilman wants to make more clear what alternatives will be acceptable to polystyrene
HTH: … Hawaii County’s polystyrene ban could be amended before it goes into effect.
The ban, passed by the County Council, prohibits food vendors from using foam containers made with polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, by July 1….
The bill passed by the council requires disposable food service ware to be a compostable product or a recyclable product, with the latter defined as material accepted by the county’s recycling program.
The county doesn’t yet have a composting facility in place and doesn’t accept all recyclable materials in its recycling program. He said he wants to make it more clear what compostable and recyclable means to avoid confusion about acceptable alternatives.
“We, as a county and a council, look forward to having the implementation occur,” said Richards, who voted for the ban. “That being said, we just got to clean up the language.”
He said he is not trying to delay implementation.
Richards chairs the council’s Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management Committee. He anticipates having a bill to amend the ordinance ready in two to three weeks….
The ordinance and draft rules can be viewed at www.hawaiizerowaste.org/reduce/foam-free-hawaii-county/
read … Councilman wants to make more clear what alternatives will be acceptable to polystyrene
An old hospital in Hilo is being transformed into a haven for the homeless
HNN: … the county’s idea is to turn the ground floor of the old hospital into an Ohana Zone for homeless men.
Data shows that’s the sector of the homeless population that needs the most help in the Hilo area.
“We foresee that we could fit 25 bunk beds in the sleeping area,” said Hirota….
In addition to providing a safe place to sleep, the shelter will also serve as a navigation center ― something the island doesn’t currently have. The goal is to help connect clients with jobs and permanent housing opportunities.
Other amenities will also be available.
“We are working with our community agencies to provide an array of services that include possibly meals, laundry services and restroom facilities,” said Hirota.
Brandee Menino heads up Hope Services Hawaii, the island’s only homeless service provider. She says the Ohana Zone concept allowed the county to get creative in terms of constructing exactly what Hawaii Island needs.
“It really was not defined for what a program should look like. So Ohana Zones meant we could fill the gaps in our community,” said Menino.
In Kona, the focus of the second Ohana Zone will be on homeless families. Right now, there’s no shelter for that population on the west side of the island.
“We will be using an existing project, Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini,” said Hirota. “We’re looking at a total of 23 units.”…
Ten of the units will be used for temporary housing, while the other 13 will become permanent homes….
HNN: Nearly a year later, many eruption evacuees still in search of a permanent home
read … An old hospital in Hilo is being transformed into a haven for the homeless