Special Election: Waters Beats Ozawa by 1,004 Votes
Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review
JSC Seeks Nominees for Maui Circuit Court
30 Years Late: DoE Discovers IDIQ -- ‘Job Order Contracting
Hawaii Smallest Firearms Industry in USA
Ethics: How Interest Group Can Plant its own People on State Payroll to Solicit Money
How Kealoha, Kaneshiro Retaliated Against Officers After Miske Arrest
ILind: …On Thursday afternoon, November 12, 2015, when HPD officer Jared Spiker was on the 900 block of Queen Street near downtown Honolulu as part of a federally-funded crackdown on driving while using a cell phone. At about 3:35 p.m. Spiker saw a driver on the phone and flagged him down.
According to a subsequent police report, Spiker recognized the driver as Michael Miske “based on prior contacts.” Spiker instructed Miske to park his car, but instead Miske drove away before being cited.
Spiker then drove to the nearby offices of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, one of several companies operating at 940 Queen Street that were controlled by or associated with Miske.
The manager telephoned Miske, “who denied he was driving the vehicle stoopped by Officer Spiker.”
A couple of hours later, Spiker received a call from Miske at his private phone number, which he does not share. It is not known how Miske obtained the number.
In the call, Miske offered to meet and “work it out.” Later, he called back and said he would be accompanied by his attorney, and agreed to call the next day to schedule the meeting.
At the time of this incident, Miske was awaiting trial on felony charges stemming for an alleged assault against a rival promoter several years previously. Miske has a criminal record going back to 1993, and has allegedly been involved in several assaults, some which have led to criminal charges and others to civil lawsuits and confidential settlements.
When Spiker didn’t hear back from Miske, he informed Sgt. Lee of the situation.
Two days later, after still not hearing from Miske, Spiker and Lee went looking for him at the M Nightclub just before it’s 4 a.m. closing time. Miske was a part-owner and operator of the club in Restaurant Row.
“Even though the doorman confirmed that Mr. Miske was in his office, Mr. Miske could not be found,” Lee said in a sworn declaration filed in court.
Shortly afterwards, about 4:30 a.m., Miske again telephone Officer Spiker “and threatened that he could go to the ’top of the food chain.’”….
“However,” Kau alleged in a court filing, “several days after that call, Mrs. Kealoha (the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office Career Criminal Division Chief at the time and the wife of then HPD Chief Kealoha) instructed Officer Spiker to leave Mr. Miske alone, claiming he was assisting the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office in another case.”…
Several days after Kealoha’s phone call to Spiker, the officer received a telephone call from another employee in the prosecutor’s office. Roger Lau, a special assistant to Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, again demanded Mr. Miske be left alone.”
In addition to his “special assistant” position, Lau is also co-chair of Kaneshiro’s campaign committee, according to the organizational report on file with the Campaign Spending Commission.
The Miske case isn’t the only time Roger Lau’s behavior has come under scrutiny. A female employee of the prosecutor’s office has alleged that her refusal to disclose details of her testimony before the federal grand jury investigating the prosecutor’s office when grilled by Roger Lau led to retaliation on the job, according to reporting by Hawaii News Now.
The woman told HNN in February 2019 that she was summoned into a meeting with Lau following her appearance before the grand jury. The woman said Lau wanted to know everything about what happened in the grand jury, including all the questions she had been asked. When she was less than forthcoming, the retaliation started, she said.
On December 4, 2015, a confidential source told Sgt. Lee that Miske was at his new home at the end of Lumahai Street in Porlock.
In his sworn declaration, Lee said that after receiving permission from HPD Captain Benjamin Mahi, he “worked in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a number of federal agents to arrest Mr. Miske.”
Miske was arrested that night at about 6 p.m. “for failing to obey a police officer’s command,” and taken to the Central Receiving Division for booking.
Lee subsequently stated that when being placed under arrest, Miske falsely stated that he had already had an agreement with Officer Spiker that he would not be arrested, and further said that Lau, from the prosecutor’s office, said everything had been taken care of.
Formal charges were filed against Miske on December 24, 2015….
Five months after Miske’s arrest, a complaint was filed against Sgt. Lee by then-Deputy Chief Cary Okimoto, who worked directly under Chief Louis Kealoha, Katherine Kealoha’s husband.
The complaint alleged that Lee had failed to submit an overtime card for the time spent on the Miske arrest “and therefore volunteered his time when he conducted the off-duty arrest of Miske.”
That omission was apparently viewed as evidence that Lee had failed to remain impartial, a violation of HPD rules.
On February 28, 2017, Lee received a written reprimand for violating department rules by having “volunteered your time when you conducted the off-duty arrest of a male.” Lee was later terminated by HPD….
Kau, in a court filing, said she “believes that a number of officers were reprimanded during this investigation,” and has subpoenaed the files of six other officers from HPD’s Professional Standards Office….
read … Attorney alleges prosecutors retaliated against HPD officer for businessman’s arrest
Council Leadership Change This Week?
SA: … Kobayashi, who was at Ozawa’s election night party at Roy’s Hawaii Kai when the results were announced, said it was clear Waters had won. “I’m sure the Council will stay united and work together,” Kobayashi said. “We have a lot of work to do that’s why.”
Later, however, she told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that she expected there to be a leadership reorganization soon and that her time as the Council’s leader, a job she accepted reluctantly, may be short.
The reorganization could happen this week, even before Waters’ victory is certified and is able to take office in early May.
Among those showing up at Waters’ victory celebration at the Brilliant Ox at Ala Moana Center were Council members Ikaika Anderson, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor. All three have been more supportive of Caldwell’s policies as has Councilman Brandon Elefante.
The remaining Council members are Carol Fukunaga, Kymberly Pine and Heidi Tsuneyoshi.
Despite Kobayashi’s prediction about losing the chairman’s gavel, she may still end up keeping it. Several Council members told the Star-Advertiser privately that Kobayashi has been even-handed and noted that Anderson, Elefante, Manahan and Menor all chair key Council committees….
read … Reorganization
Josh Green Finally Abandons Tent Cities?
SA: … At the state Capitol, the coming weeks will be telling. For example, Senate Bill 1131, which would provide more funding for a stop-gap housing solution known as “ohana zones” is still moving through the Legislature….
In a meeting last week with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorial board, the lieutenant governor detailed his 10-point plan for the chronically homeless. Among these points are the ohana zones funding, which he sees as the means to provide infrastructure on state land where the homeless could live, at least for the short term.
But the strength of this blueprint lay in the variations on the theme: moving the chronically homeless toward stability. In lieu of “tent cities,” largely disparaged by the social-service sector, is the “kauhale” model of community….
This “place of social respite” collects dwellings around communal spaces, and could qualify for the ohana-zoning funds if they are authorized, Green said. It also would be eligible for federal funds as permanent housing units….
services aimed at those whose health is deteriorating from life on the street could offer interventions that would save big money, in the long term, over the frequent hospital visits by the chronically homeless….
read … Multiply efforts to help homeless
Another CWS Fail: Parents sue over 3-year-old’s death in foster care
SA: … Big Island boy Fabian Garett-Garcia was only 3 when he died July 25, 2017, from injuries received while under the temporary foster care of Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie and her husband, Clifton McKenzie, at their Waimea home.
The coroner found on March 3, 2018, that the child died of nonaccidental blunt-force trauma to the head. Police arrested Alcosiba-McKenzie Aug. 16 on suspicion of second-degree murder but she has not been charged to date.
The boy’s parents, Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia, filed a lawsuit April 4 in Third Circuit Court on the Big Island against the state, the Department of Human Services, Catholic Charities Hawaii and the two formerly licensed caregivers….
The lawsuit alleges that months and even days prior to Garett-Garcia’s death, DHS and Catholic Charities staff saw obvious injuries on the child and on nearly a dozen occasions were notified by his mother of suspected child abuse occurring in the foster home, yet Child Welfare Services did not remove him or his siblings until after his death….
Hawaii County Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services personnel found the child’s lifeless body lying in a pool of vomit on a bed in the McKenzie home. EMS records show he had various stages of bruising on his head, neck and body, older blotchy bruises on his left shoulder and vomit in his throat….
Emergency room physicians found bleeding in both the boy’s eyes, bruising on his forehead and surrounding his eyes, on both cheeks, his chin, right forearm and left shoulder and flank….
On May 22, 2017, Garett observed that a younger son couldn’t walk, was bruised and burned and had bald spots on his head, injuries verified by a doctor’s chart note, the complaint said. She also notified a social worker May 31, 2017, that her children had head lice, diaper rash, bruises, scrapes and yeast infections, but the social worker did not investigate, according to the suit.
The complaint also said the mother reported injuries and pain to Garett-Garcia and another son’s scrotum, neck, penis, and that the 3-year-old reported “Aunty pinched my olos.”
The couple allege in their lawsuit that Alcosiba-McKenzie has a documented history of legal, psychological and personal problems that should have disqualified her from becoming a licensed caregiver….
read … Parents sue over 3-year-old’s death in foster care
Inmate: ‘This is crazy; we going die’
MN: … Inmates rampaging around with iron pipes busting cell doors and windows and lighting up boxes of toilet paper and plastic chairs. A fire that “got so big it touched the ceiling.” Choking smoke that shrouded Module B in a blinding haze.
This is how an inmate who watched from his “front-row seat” in a cell overlooking the scene described the riot that caused millions of dollars in damage at Maui Community Correctional Center on March 11….
Another Module B inmate that day, locked in his upper-level cell and who came to The Maui News for an interview after his release last week, remembers it getting “really noisy” with inmates throwing computers and “anything they could find.” …
To make it worse, smoke started filling up in our cell, got so thick we could barely see each other,” said the inmate who wrote the letter. “We put our white shirts with water over our mouth and nose so we wouldn’t breathe in the smoke directly….
After about three hours, the guards returned to the module holding shields and batons, said the inmate who was later released. He and other inmates said the guards were hitting and kicking inmates, some with their hands shackled in zip ties.
Inmates were taken outside behind Module B after the riot ended after 6 p.m. and were held there until 2 a.m. the next day without food, said the inmate who was later released.
There was a small fence separating inmates from Module B and Module A, which was affected by the smoke. Some jumped the fence and started fighting, he said.
Inmates said they were returned to their cells with unusable toilets and sinks and broken shards on the ground. The Department of Public Safety has said inmates were put in full or partially operational cells because there were no other secure locations to house the inmates.
The situation in the jail remained tense until Department of Public Safety officials began moving the instigators and major participants to Halawa Correctional Center on Oahu three days after the riot, inmates said. In all, 32 inmates have been relocated….
KITV: Two pre-trial detainees escape Maui Community Correctional Center
read … Inmate: ‘This is crazy; we going die’
HELCO seeks 3.4% increase
HTH: … The no-shows in Hilo followed a Thursday evening public hearing in Kona when just three members of the public weighed in. But PUC Chairman James Griffin said the public still has plenty of time to comment on HELCO’s proposal.
“We’re very much in the beginning still,” Griffin said.
HELCO is seeking a 3.4 percent increase in rates, in addition to other changes to its billing structure. The utility has also asked to raise its minimum deposit to $50 and to lower the interest rate it pays on deposits from 6 percent to 2 percent.
HELCO estimates the rate hike will generate $13.4 million in additional revenue. It would cost a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity another $8.21 per month….
The increase would also be used to fund grid modernization efforts, repairs to facilities damaged by the Kilauea eruption and increasing operation at power plants due to the loss of Puna Geothermal Venture, repairing and repowering the Waiau hydroelectric plant, enhancing cybersecurity and equipment upgrades or repairs….
read … HELCO seeks 3.4% increase
Oh, yeah? Well, how’d you like an audit, punk?
Cataluna: …In testimony the beleaguered head of Public Safety submitted to the Legislature, he cited the “weaponization of the auditor’s office” by lawmakers.
However, any department that argues against an audit looks like it can’t handle scrutiny.
Savage. Fearsome. Part blade and part bludgeon. Just uttering the threat of an audit is meant to strike fear in the hearts of government agencies and recipients of public money.
Granted, audits are important tools for management. As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and an audit can show where money is leaking out the seams, where inefficiencies have crept in or where goals go unmet year after year in an organization.
But too often, audits are being wielded as the greatest tool of enforcement, a way for lawmakers to seem like they’re rooting out evil and corruption, or simply as a way to mess with a particular agency or administrator.
It’s a hammer. It’s a threat. It’s a way for a politician to get some media coverage.
It is also a way to push off work to somebody else. Instead of digging through documents, making site visits, poring over reports and asking tough questions, calling for an audit allows lawmakers to look like they’re doing something while they’re doing nothing….
Oh, but even then, there’s a bigger gun: the forensic audit — even scarier because it’s targeted. While a financial audit confirms the validity of an agency’s financial records, a forensic audit starts by looking for something wrong and ends with a report that can be presented in court.
Calling for a forensic audit is often a means of public shaming.
Audits are useful and necessary, but they are not a substitute for good management and smart legislating.
read … Oh, yeah? Well, how’d you like an audit, punk?
Proposals would reduce building permit fees
KGI: … All of the bills were amendments to the county code relating to additional rental units.
• Bill 2740 grants the County Housing Agency the authority to establish the definition of an affordable ARU as well as waives the zoning permit filing and processing fee for certified ARUs.
• Bill 2741 waives environmental impact assessment fees for certified affordable ARUs.
• Bill 2742 extends the housing development fund to allow the fund to be used to subsidize the facilities reserve charge for qualified affordable ARUs.
• Bill 2743 waives wastewater treatment assessment fees for certified affordable ARUs and allows for the assessment fee to be recovered for ARUs which fall out of affordability within three years.
• Bill 2744 waives building permit fees for ARUs, including fees associated with electrical and plumbing.
• Bill 2745 allows for ARUs to be built on Rice Street in Lihue.
The draft bills now go before the Planning Commission for approval, prompting Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro to comment that the council will probably see the bills “at least four more times.”
read … Proposals would reduce building permit fees
Mufi: Counties have Acted on TVRs—Now it is up to Legislature
Borreca: ... vacation rental units are now part of the Hawaii tourist industry and they are are not going away or are subject to easy regulation.
Still the vacation rental market has repeatedly said, Tax us, we’ll pay, just be fair.
The great discouragement is that repeatedly the state has been unable to do it. Some may be paying general excise taxes, but not all of them are paying the required hotel room tax.
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, after repeatedly failing to get some regulation through the state government, has switched his focus and is hoping that work done by Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties will work.
“We are seeing much more success with counties. Hawaii (island) passed comprehensive legislation, Maui passed separate tax classifications, and Kauai has a separate tax for vacation units,” Hannemann said in an interview.
He doesn’t think much of current state proposals involving fees or fines to regulate the business and make some money.
“That is just chump change; you need to set up a separate tax classification. They need to start collecting the money,” said Hannemann. “It is money that is just sitting there.”
Hannemann, who ran against Ige for governor in 2014, said that if Ige is not going to pull legislators together to forge a solution, the Legislature needs to come up with a bill and tell Ige they will pass it and override his veto.
Ige vetoed an “Airbnb bill” in 2016 and his administration is pushing a new bill this year. But so far the Legislature has not shown any interest in coming up with a solution that will both give new tax money to the state and coherent guidelines for the industry….
read … Lawmakers must try, try and try again until they forge needed law on vacation rentals