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Tuesday, April 16, 2019
April 16, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:24 PM :: 2085 Views

Ethics: DOBOR Kauai Employee Quickly Begins Taking Stuff

Caldwell’s Rubber Stamp Council will Tax and Spend

SA: … attention already has turned toward effects on some critical decisions pending in Honolulu Hale. The budget-busting Honolulu rail project looms over the city’s fiscal future…

Even beyond the immediate concerns about snags in rail construction financing, taxpayers ought to feel concerned that the city will shoulder the costs of operating the system and maintaining it. If money gets siphoned off for other proposed new-starts, such as the Neal Blaisdell Center makeover and significant upgrades to Ala Moana Beach Park, where will the rail get its local funding stream? …

Construction interests contributed to both candidates, some in comparable amounts, but Waters plainly outraised Ozawa in the special-election campaign, with additional advertising paid for by political action committees….

It’s not clear yet who will emerge as the permanent chairperson; Ann Kobayashi, who has held the post temporarily while the special election was underway, is expected to step down….

(Trying to suppress a smirk,) Waters has said publicly that he would not be a “rubber stamp” for the mayor….

Blaisdell and Ala Moana park redevelopment proposals…

Among the major initiatives soon to reach a decision point is Bill 89, the proposal to regulate vacation rentals on Oahu and ultimately have them taxed appropriately.

There will be other efforts to boost revenue, such as the now-jettisoned trash fees, and ongoing attempts to institute “monster house” rules and other land-use controls….

read … Council must be wary of spending

UIPA Request: DoE Refusing to Release Check Register

SA: … Currently, the DOE does not have a financial model that can merge topical data and contextual facts into a decision-making format. The Education Institute of Hawaii (EIH) and its partner, EduAnalytics, has explained and offered to fund a school finance model to provide DOE fiscal transparency. This model would give all stakeholder groups — legislators, principals, parents, teachers, etc. — a better idea on how each of Hawaii’s 257 public schools are financed at the classroom level….

EIH’s intent is to assist the DOE and help the superintendent find ways to afford the strategic plan she has publicly stated is unaffordable with the current budget. We have attempted, and formally asked, the DOE to provide the public financial data; that request was not fully answered. We are now caught in the cumbersome Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, through 92F requests, and are working with the Office of Information Practice to obtain the general ledger data we need to complete the work.

Hawaii’s FOIA process is limited to one-way communication using form submittals that restrict communication. It would be more effective and efficient if the DOE staff simply picked up the phone and talked to the requestor to clarify the request in a two-way communication.

EIH is unsure why the DOE is hesitant to participate in the financial study or willing to share public information. For the past three years the DOE has stated it is too busy to provide the information EIH requested, but we are skeptical. Taking the time now to provide the general ledger data will make the DOE less busy in the future. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown or a knee-jerk reaction to accept ideas from outsiders.

The bottom line: We need to determine if the DOE is adequately funded. We don’t know.

We need to make the focus of school finance a school-based process, and it must occur at the classroom level with the “child in the seat” as the center of gravity….

read … Empowering schools requires access to financial data

HDOT still seeking your thoughts on a proposal to tax drivers by the mile

HNN: … At previous community meetings, residents have expressed strong objection to the proposal.

Two more community meetings are planned on Oahu as well as an online meeting for residents across the state.

The Oahu meetings will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday April 16 at the Kalani High School cafeteria, and Wednesday the 17th at the Castle High School cafeteria from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

An online meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

It will be broadcast live on this youtube page. Questions and comments can be emailed to contact@hiruc.org during the meeting….

read … HDOT still seeking your thoughts on a proposal to tax drivers by the mile

Community members come together to rally against crime and corruption in Hawaii

KITV: … From Facebook to the State Capitol, some members from the group Stolen Stuff Hawaii called on lawmakers to pass stricter laws to help victims.

The rally focused on crime and corruption. Dozens of the group's members spent the day waving signs and advocating for change, hoping their actions will make Hawaii a safer place for everyone.

"Crime hits everybody and a lot of people are traumatized by the crime that happens," Dwayne Fedalizo, a rally participant, said. "You see something, say something. We back up HPD and give them a call, they're here to help us."

Police say the partnership is not official but it appreciates strangers coming together to help solve crimes.

"Amazing how powerful it is when you put together the community and the voices of the community as one. This is just how powerful it is. This is what we're talking about so all you criminals out there, beware," Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, said. …

The next rally is scheduled in January before the 2020 legislative session. …

read … Community members come together to rally against crime and corruption in Hawaii

Katherine Kealoha’s grandmother forced to pay over $100K in legal fees in corruption case

HNN: …  Katherine Kealoha’s grandmother, Florence Puana, is appealing the case that ended with her paying more than $100 of Kealoha’s legal fees.

The 99-year-old was ordered to pay up after losing her state lawsuit against Kealoha several years ago.

A federal grand jury has since concluded that Kealoha defrauded Puana.

In an interview with Hawaii News Now in 2017 Florence Puana talked about how Katherine Kealoha defrauded her and abused her trust.

“I can’t even imagine anybody doing what she did," Florence Puana previously said.

But a circuit court jury sided with Kealoha, and said Mrs. Puana and her son Gerard should pay hundreds of thousands in damages to Kealoha.

Despite the emerging federal investigation into the Kealohas. In November 2016 The judge garnished Puana bank accounts, which forced her to pay $108,000 for Kealoha’s legal fees and court costs….

AP: A deposition for a 99-year-old woman prosecutors say is a key witness in a Honolulu corruption case has been postponed because she was hospitalized over the weekend.

read … Katherine Kealoha’s grandmother forced to pay over $100K in legal fees in corruption case

Old Boys Line up Behind “Only Candidate’ Running for CD2—Kahele

CB: … Much of Kahele’s money — about $195,000 — came from donors giving his campaign more than $200, meaning their names, address and business affiliations are listed in the reports.

Kahele also received $8,700 from three political action committees, including the Hawaiian Airlines PAC.

Other PACs contributing to Kahele’s campaign are those affiliated with the Bank of Hawaii and Service Corporation International, which provides funeral and cemetery services.

Gabbard said she swore off PAC contributions in 2017, something that has become en vogue, especially among progressive Democrats running for president.

What the FEC filings make clear is that Kahele is picking up support — at least financially — from some of the state’s most influential business leaders and power brokers.

Kahele is already endorsed by former Hawaii governors John Waihee, Ben Cayetano and Neil Abercrombie, all of whom are honorary co-chairs of his campaign.

Among his donors are developer Stanford Carr, shipping magnate George Pasha, of the Pasha Group, and Alicia Moi, president and CEO of Hawaii Gas.

Top lobbyists, including George “Red” Morris, John Radcliffe, Bruce Coppa, Melissa Pavlicek and Blake Oshiro, whose firm Capital Consultants of Hawaii is a mainstay in island politics, are also on the donor list.

Other notable names are Walter Dods and Crystal Rose. Dods is the former chairman of First Hawaiian Bank and was U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye’s campaign chairman. Rose, meanwhile, is a real estate lawyer, and trusted campaign advisor for U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Leaders in the Native Hawaiian community have also thrown their support behind Kahele, who is part-Native Hawaiian.

Three current Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees, Lei Ahu Isa, Robert Lindsey and Colette Machado, have donated to his campaign, as have two past members, Peter Apo and Oswald Stender.

A handful of local politicians have also given Kahele money, including state Sen. Michelle Kidani, Rep. Chris Todd and Hawaii County Councilman Aaron Chung.

Kahele says he’s appreciative of all the support and hopes that it leads to an even better financial showing in the next fundraising quarter.

He said at this point he considers himself the only person in the race for the Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District because Gabbard has been busy running for president. He added that she’s also appeared “noncommittal” when pressed about her future plans for the seat….

read … Old Boys Last Hope

Gabbard Second to Last in Democrat Presidential Fund Race

AP: … Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led the field by raising $18 million and California Sen. Kamala Harris came in second with $12 million. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke came in third with $9.3 million, followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who capitalized on a flurry of publicity to raise $7 million.

The rest of the field of more than a dozen candidates raised $6 million or less apiece….

Outside of the fundraising frontrunners comes Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who raised $6 million, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar with $5.2 million and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who raised $5 million. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand raised $3 million, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee raised $2.2 million, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took in about $2 million and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard raised $1.9 million. Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro took in $1.1 million….

read … Democrats Raise $75 Million; Drawn-Out Nomination Fight Likely

The High Price Of Luring The Movies To Hawaii

CB: … The state paid out an estimated $99 million to productions in 2016 and 2017 alone, supporting two network television series, “Hawaii Five-O” and “Magnum P.I.,” a steady parade of Hollywood blockbusters and numerous big-budget television commercials….

A broad swath of people, from Hollywood lobbyists and government officials to union workers, is pushing to lift the cap or eliminate it altogether….

Legislation is now headed to conference committee. The key provisions – the cap and sunset date – are left blank, which means legislators will have to hash out those terms in the waning days of the session. If not, the current cap and sunset date will stay in place….

read … The High Price Of Luring The Movies To Hawaii

HB1093: Proposed Bill Regulating Uber, Lyft Is Biased Against Taxis

CB:  …Taxi fleets have already been reduced to about half their size just a few years ago, and now the Legislature is maneuvering to exclude taxis and limousines from operating as TNCs….

… The failure to require TNCs to carry signage is one of many deficiencies in the regulations the state is now considering. It’s also one more example of a longtime bias against taxis.

Since 2016, the City and County of Honolulu has systematically deconstructed Hawaii’s taxi ordinances. The city euphemistically describes this process as “creating a level playing field.” The idea is that in a city with no regulations, taxis and TNCs would be able to participate in free and open competition….

HB 1093 HD2 discriminates because it defines a TNC company as “not a taxicab association or a for-hire vehicle owner.” It further defines a TNC vehicle as “not a taxicab, limousine, or other for-hire vehicle.”

What about my company, AllWays Charley’s?

AllWays Charley’s is a city-licensed TNC, a separate entity from Charley’s Taxi. It operates using a digital network or software application to connect passengers to drivers, just as Uber and Lyft do.

But with this legislation, AllWays Charley’s would not meet the definition of a TNC, and would not be treated in accordance with the same advantageous regulations afforded TNCs.

What about other taxi and limousine companies that may want to transition to become a TNC? Apparently they would have to start over from scratch….

read … Proposed Bill Regulating Uber, Lyft Is Biased Against Taxis

Recycling numbers are down but costs are up

KITV: … Recycling rates have been dropping on Oahu. …

In fact fewer glass bottles are being recycled.

Partly because restaurants and bars are no longer required to return glass bottles, after the state ran out of money to subsidize recyclers for glass.

Recycling also became more expensive because China cracked down on contaminated products, like cardboard covered with food.

"We ship 100% of our recyclables to the mainland, that was ending up in China. But with their restrictions on contamination, it is almost impossible to meet their requirement to ship it there," said Lori Kahikina, the Department of Environmental Services Director.

Part of the problem is the programs big blue bin. Everything gets dumped in together: paper, plastic, cans and glass….

"If you make it more difficult, I think you will get less people recycling. So it is easier to put it all in one bin and we will sort it out at a recycling facility," stated Kahikina.

That contract costs the city millions every year.

But there is another option that could instead earn millions, by burning recyclables to generate electricity.

"I would like to burn most of our recyclables at the H-power plant. It is more cost effective and better for the environment because we are not shipping it away to the mainland using fossil fuel," added Kahikina.

"If we could actually use it to make electricity and power, and lower the cost of electricity - that would be amazing," said Martinez.

Some worry about the impact of burning plastics, but Kahikina said H-power filters emissions down to federal and state approved levels….

Right now, the city cannot burn those recycled products but she hopes to make changes to the recycling contract at the end of the year.

In the meantime, she said would like to see people reduce the need for recycling… 

HM: Should Hawai‘i Continue to Recycle? These ‘Experts’ Say You Should Think Again

read … Recycling numbers are down but costs are up

HIDOT Removes 14 Truckloads of Trash—All Seven Homeless Refuse Shelter

WHT: … He said there were between eight and 10 homeless people living in the brush at the Palani Road intersection, with a few others coming and going. The Tunnels, Reeves said, have been home to about six to eight people who moved in after a camp located near Mental Health Kokua on Kalani Street in Kailua Village was shut down.

Reeves said the group at the Palani Road intersection began building their living area up as early as three years ago, which might account for the sheer amount of trash that accumulated there.

A crew of 15 workers donning neon vests and protective gloves shoveled piles of damp refuse into buckets and tarps under a wet sky Monday morning. They then hauled their loads on dirt paths twisting like a mini labyrinth through the thick brush out to a blue dumpster stationed on the side of the road.

Sniffen said the brush would be cut back immediately after the crews finished the bulk of their work to aid further in a fuller and more thorough cleanup effort.

Crews disposed of shopping carts, wooden pallets, old furniture, a defunct motor bike and helmets, paper and plastic products, discarded clothing, old carpet and considerably more as a transient audience of motorists passed by, sometimes honking or offering verbal shows of support for those tearing down the camp.

“I have always been upset about that mess on the highway with the homeless situation,” said Don Maxwell, a long-time Kona resident. “I think if I got off a plane as a tourist and drove into Kona, I might just turn around, jump on the plane and go to Hilo or Tahiti or someplace else. It’s been a god-awful mess.”

In all, Sniffen estimated the DOT pulled 10 truckloads of trash from the Palani Road intersection and expected the Tunnels would produce another four truckloads of rubbish….

Brandee Menino, CEO of Hope Services, said her organization made contact with seven individuals. Of the seven, none accepted offers to enter emergency housing at the shelter off Pawai Place in the Old Kona Industrial Area. But five homeless did express interest in outreach Menino described as the start of a path to permanent housing….

As for the county’s proposed Ohana Zone solution at Village 9 off Kealakehe Parkway, Reeves was skeptical that could ever work. He also questioned why the community would allow it.

“Would you really want a homeless center around a high school? You’ve got drug addicts, you’ve got sex offenders, you’ve got shiftless panhandlers,” Reeves said about a minority, but problematic, sector of the homeless population. “I would be furious if I bought a house up there and had to worry about my 15-year-old daughter (dealing with panhandlers) every day.”…

UH Perfesser: We need More Homeless Tent Cities and Less Economic Growth

read … State cleans out Kona homeless camp

Recovering Drug Addict ‘was homeless downtown for many, many years’

CB:  … It is common knowledge that large pharmacy companies, particularly the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, manipulated U.S. health regulators and thousands of doctors into believing that painkilling pills such as OxyContin are not addictive.

“It is one of the biggest con jobs in the medical history of the United States,” says Edward Mersereau.

Mersereau is the director of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Services Administration ….

Emmanuel says her downtown Honolulu dealer sold her morphine pills that he got with a legal prescription, which he then turned around to sell to get cash to buy his illegal drug of choice: crystal meth.

Pills-for-cash exchanges like this are going on every day here but even so, prescription opioid abuse is not as prevalent here.

Mersereau says that although deaths by opioid overdoses are relatively low in Hawaii, the amount of opioids pills prescribed is still a concern. Last year there were 640,000 prescriptions for opioids in Hawaii.

“In a state of 1.4 million, that is a huge amount of opioid prescriptions,” he says….

He speculates that one of the reasons the death rate is lower in Hawaii is because crystal methamphetamine is still a top drug here, as well as cannabis, but not heroin or prescription opioids.

Hawaii Department of Health data for July 2017 to December 2018 show that 9% of individuals (750 people) enrolled in state substance abuse treatment programs were opioid users compared with 40% or 3,444 people who had crystal meth or other amphetamine diagnoses….

She is employed as an outreach worker with the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, going out in a van every day to help guide addicts to treatment, counseling and medical care as well as exchanging syringes one-for-one with drug users.

Emmanuel says she feels no cravings in “the combat zone” — downtown Honolulu — when she interacts with her old friends she used to do drugs with.

“I am the one healing them. I was homeless downtown for many, many years. Now I am the one who gets back into the van to continue traveling to help others. I call myself an agent of change.”…

read … Why Hawaii Has Many Opioid Users But Few Overdose Deaths

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