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Thursday, May 02, 2019
May 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:39 PM :: 1749 Views

BEA: Hawaii Economic Growth Slows to 1%

How Clean Is Your Electric Vehicle?

Schofield Manager Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes?

Will Next Kauai Auditor have a Fake Diploma?

KGI: … It hasn’t taken long for the new County Council to consider a personnel decision many on Kauai might find surprising.

The council is considering hiring Mel Rapozo, former chair of the council, as the county’s new auditor — a position that could entail internal investigation of government agencies.

His resume, as presented on his campaign website last year when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Derek S.K. Kawakami, says he is a graduate of Everest University in Florida, an institution that lacks regional accreditation and, when Rapozo attended, was part of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit national chain that went out of business in 2015 in the wake of scandal. It is now operated by another holding company, Zenith Education Group.

Rapozo is a Kauai High School graduate and owns and operates M&P Investigation Services, a private investigation company. He is also night auditor at a resort hotel — typically a job in which the auditor posts charges against guest bills and serves in a non-supervisory bookkeeping capacity….

Under the charter, the county auditor must have several specific qualifications. He must, for example, be a certified public accountant or certified internal auditor or have an advanced degree in a relevant field “with at least five years experience in the field of government auditing, evaluation or analysis.” ….

Rapozo has no advanced degree and is not a CPA. Although his employment job title — for part-time work he did while on the County Council and since — contains the word “auditor,” Rapozo is not an auditor the way the County Charter is written or within its meaning. Without some “certification” in a relevant field, the charter says a person cannot be county auditor.

Yet I’m told reliably that Rapozo, who has made no secret of the fact that he wants the job of county auditor, is possibly the favored candidate and may have the votes of four of the seven County Council members who will make the hiring decision. Opposing Rapozo’s application — at least as recently as late last week — were Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin and Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro….

read … Follow County Charter in auditor selection

More Fiscal Transparency Appears On The Way For Charter Schools

CB: … A bill requiring charter schools to turn over financial records upon request from the state charter school commission cleared both chambers of the Legislature, signaling potential changes to the way financial information is shared by these schools.

House Bill 622 will next go to the governor for his signature. The measure was significantly pared down by the time it was reported out of conference committee Friday.

The proposal initially would have set up a central banking system through which funds would be distributed to the 36 charter schools via the commission rather than to the schools directly. That version sent a shudder through many of the schools’ leaders and did not survive the conference committee….

The revised measure shortens the “wait period” to one year before anyone affiliated with a charter school can serve on the voluntary commission, which serves as the authorizer and renewer of schools and whose members are appointed by the Board of Education.

A charter school would also need to give the state commission “full access to its fiscal and accounting books, documents and files,” upon request, the bill says.

In another departure from the current system, the commission would be responsible for selecting three independent auditors, one of which the school would designate to complete its required annual audit.

Under the current system, the schools select their own auditors….

read … More Fiscal Transparency Appears On The Way For Charter Schools

Hawaii: Six Second Amendment Lawsuits

HiFiCo: … Roberts v city and county of Honolulu. -- HPD violating legal immigrants rights to bear arms (now at the 9th circuit over legal fees).

Roberts v Ballard -- State of Hawaii’s unconstitutional ban on electric arms (tasers).

Roberts v Conners -- Hawaii denying legal immigrants the ability to apply for carry permits.

HIFICO v FBI -- The FBI failed to respond to a request for information regarding Hawaii’s use of the Rap Back service.

Young v Hawaii -- HIFICO submitted an amicus brief on this case to demonstrate Hawaii’s need for permits to be issued.

Tetter v Conners -- HIFICO is supporting this legal fight to overturn Hawaii’s (unconditional) ban on the possession of butterfly knifes ….

Related: Levinson: Ballard's Second Amendment Stance 'Could Precipitate Legal Catastrophe'

read … HiFiCo

SHOPO ‘Arbitration’ Protects Another Bad Cop, This Time Despite Domestic Violence Allegations

Reason: … But a union arbitrator fought for Cachola's reinstatement, which was granted last year. The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to prohibit the details of the decision from becoming public. The board then issued a temporary order against the police chief and city officials to keep the details from being released.

Cachola is expected to receive hundreds of thousands in back pay following his reinstatement….

MH: Arbitration allows shabby cops to escape real world consequences

read … Another

DLNR: Watershed Management Means ‘Pay Us’

EH: “Let me first say, what you’re doing is long overdue. It’s something we need to do and it’s taken a long time for us to get to this point,” Stanley Roehrig told Ian Hirokawa of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Land Division.

On March 22, Hirokawa presented Roehrig and his fellow members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources a novel method by which prospective water lessees of could, with relatively little work or expense, meet their statutory requirement to develop and implement a watershed management plan.

… With regard to implementation, the Land Division proposed a cost-sharing scheme in which lessees would pay an annual watershed management fee based on the relative amount of available water they used.

For example, Kapapala Ranch is seeking to use about a tenth of a percent of the water available from the aquifer in Ka‘u. Annual management costs under the plan for the area have been estimated at about $1 million. A tenth of a percent of that equates to about $1,000, which is what the ranch would pay to the department every year under the division’s plan.

Management costs vary depending on the area, but the division proposed that lessees’ fees be prorated on the basis of a daily overall management cost of at least $2,500….

if the smaller water users on Kauai and Hawaii — East Kaua‘i Water Users’ Cooperative, Jeffrey Linder, Edmund C. Olson Trust, Kapapala Ranch, Kuahiwi Contractors, and Wood Valley — paid their implementation fees based on the formula, they could meet the requirements regarding the watershed plan, he said. Annual fees for those permittees would range between $824.31 and $3,267.83….

The proposed base management cost of $2,500 a day would cover a single day of invasive plant removal by a small work crew. “It’s not much. It’s something,” he said….

Sharon Suzuki, president of Hawaiian Electric Light Company, the Big Island electric utility, testified that the watershed fee for its hydropower plant on the Wailuku River could be around $240,000 under the proposed formula, which was about $40,000 more than what A&B’s East Maui Irrigation Co. would have to pay.

HELCO’s fee would be 11 times what the utility is paying for the water itself under its permit, she said. She added that all of the water used is returned to the river while pointing out that last year, the plant provided Hawaii island with 6 percent of its renewable energy….

read … Land Board Delays Action on Plan To Move Forward with Water Permits

Maui Council Votes to Cut Tourism Marketing by $1M

MT: … In 2018, the U.S. Census estimated the resident population of Maui County at 167,207. One-third of that is 55,736 – that’s the number of visitors on island at any given time that the Maui Island Plan states we should not exceed in order to “Maximize residents’ benefits from the visitor industry.” Yet, data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows that Maui’s average daily visitor census for every month this year so far has exceeded this guidance by more than 10,000 visitors. Only two months in 2018 fell below the limit suggested by the Island Plan, with tourism peaking at 74,929 visitors on island per day in July.

So why does the county continue to invest millions of dollars a year into the Maui County Visitors Association, an organization with the mission of marketing Maui to prospective tourists across the globe?

That’s the $4-million question that was taken up at an April 24 meeting of Maui County Council’s Economic Development and Budget Committee.

In the end, the committee voted to cut the appropriation for the Maui County Visitors Association to $3 million, a reduction from the $4 million proposed by Mayor Michael Victorino and the $4 million allotted in the previous budget. The reduction in funds was advanced by Councilmembers Tamara Paltin, Shane Sinenci, Kelly King, and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who all initially supported a motion to strip the Association’s funding by half, to $2 million….

read … Maui County Council Debates the Future of the Island’s ‘Golden Goose,’ Tourism

Native Hawaiian Taro Farmer Has Been Fighting A&B For Decades

CB: … He’s pointing to a field in East Maui blanketing the slope below him where men and women are turning over dirt to prepare another taro patch. It is late morning and Wendt is standing on his family’s ancestral land facing the rows and rows of taro plants sitting in foot-deep water.

Four years ago, the view was drastically different. The water dried up, the consequence of stream diversions by Alexander & Baldwin, one of Hawaii’s largest landowners, for its vast sugar holdings in East Maui. Wendt ended up substituting pumpkins because it was so dry. Jungle grew over the fallow land….

Related: Activist Attacks Destroy 15% of Hawaii Agriculture

read … Native Hawaiian Taro Farmer Has Been Fighting A&B For Decades

Activist Launches Chemophobia Campaign to Save Hawaii Mosquitoes after Legislature passes HB297

CB: … House Bill 297 would allow for the Department of Agriculture to explore the importation of these mosquitoes at a “landscape scale.”…

They want to study the idea of importing and introducing into our islands species of mosquito that have been edited to carry the Wolbachia bacteria, with the hope that this genetic trait would force itself into the natural Aedes aegypti here in Hawaii. If the theory proves successful, it could reduce the local mosquito population that transmits devastating diseases into Hawaii’s native forest birds. …

read … Save the Mosquitoes

Witnesses implicate former death row inmate in 2017 shooting

SA: … Richard Grimes testified that he was involved in McCoy’s prostitution operation as McCoy’s driver. He said he picked up McCoy and Smith at the Hawaiian Ebbtide Hotel in the early morning of Sept. 16, 2017, about four hours before the shooting. He said Smith had an assault rifle and McCoy had a shotgun….

Grimes said he drove McCoy and Smith around Waikiki looking for a person Smith had a confrontation with the night before.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter showed the jurors security video of Smith fighting with another man in Moose McGillycuddy’s.

Grimes said at one point he stopped on Seaside Avenue and Smith got out. When he returned McCoy asked Smith, “Is he there?” Smith answered “Yeah,” and left with the assault rifle. Grimes said about 30 seconds later he heard gunshots.

He said he was “Terrified, because I didn’t know that was going to happen.”

When Smith returned Grimes said McCoy asked Smith, “Did you get him?” He said Smith replied, “Yeah.”

Grimes said after the shooting, he dropped off McCoy and Smith at a Launiu Street apartment where one of McCoy’s brothers lives.

Tony Thomas testified that he too was involved in McCoy’s prostitution operation and that he picked up Smith and Smith’s brother at the airport about a week before the shooting. He said Smith arrived from Delaware and agreed to enforce McCoy’s “blade” or territory by keeping out rival pimps collecting fees from independent prostitutes.

He said he was in Waikiki looking for Smith’s brother when he heard the gunshots. He said he went to the Launiu apartment where McCoy told him he had cleaned the assault rifle with bleach….

Federal prosecutors secured sex trafficking charges against McCoy after he was not named in the Smith murder and attempted murder state indictment. They were forced to drop their case against McCoy last November after discovering that the case agent withheld evidence and lied…. 

November, 2019: UH: Ken Lawson Admits his “Innocence Project” Brought Alleged Pimp to Hawaii

read … Witnesses implicate former death row inmate in 2017 shooting

Will Tulsi Gabbard get Bumped from Dem Debate?

NYT:  … The first Democratic presidential debate showcases that effort: Candidates can gain access to the stage through grass-roots fund-raising, and in anticipation of a “historically large primary field,”officials decided to split the event across two nights in late June, so that as many as 20 candidates could take part.

But as of Thursday morning, when Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado announced his candidacy for president, those efforts at inclusion have been placed under strain. Mr. Bennet’s entrance ticks the number of Democratic candidates in the field up to 21, and additional candidates may still join, making it a real possibility that some will be left off the debate stage.

Only 17 candidates have so far qualified for the first debate, so cuts are not guaranteed. But with nearly two months to go, more candidates could very well meet the requirements….

read … Circus--lots of clowns, jugglers, and contortionists

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