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Wednesday, May 08, 2019
May 8, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 2024 Views

No, Honolulu’s beaches aren’t going to disappear in 20 years

The Role and Impact of Law Enforcement in Transporting Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

Hawaii DOE Pitches '2030 Promise Plan'

Ige: New Rules for EIS Process

Best States for New College Grads--Hawaii 49th

UH: 95% of our Students Tell Us They are Brainwashed 

Federal investigations of Hawaii institutions ‘unprecedented’

SA: Several attorneys, former prosecutors and others attributed the proliferation of federal cases to multiple factors, including that people are increasingly intolerant of unethical officials and are more inclined to report such behavior. And, they added, federal authorities in Hawaii seem to have a free ‘hand’ to go after cases.  (Translation: Inouye and Mehau are dead.)

Lee, who served as a deputy prosecutor before becoming a judge in 2005, said public corruption always has been a problem here, but employees historically have reported lower-level managers or staff, not those at the top….

“We have been up to now incapable of policing ourselves,” Seitz said….

Some attorneys cite the ongoing, multiyear federal investigation of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142.

A plea deal and an indictment earlier this year involving two former officials of that union are an indication that authorities are continuing a broader probe, according to attorneys familiar with the cases….

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said an attorney who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the cases.

Among the allegations investigators are pursuing in the ILWU case is that new stevedores in some instances had to pay up to $60,000 in cash to work at the docks, the attorney said….

… The number and breadth of current federal investigations into alleged corruption at Hawaii’s public institutions is unmatched in the state’s history, according to about a dozen former investigators, prosecutors, judges and others who have spent decades working in, documenting or observing the law enforcement arena in the islands.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” said Hawaii Pacific University assistant professor Randal Lee, who worked 25 years in the prosecutor’s office focusing on public corruption cases and a decade as a state judge. “It is unprecedented.”

“It’s shocking,” agreed Doug Chin, a former city prosecutor, state attorney general and lieutenant governor. “I think it’s a big wake-up call.” …

No one contacted by Honolulu Star-­Advertiser could recall another time in which so many people with public or quasi-public institutions — from the police department and prosecutor’s office to labor organizations and the corporation counsel office — were under investigation by federal authorities for alleged wrongdoing while on the job.

They also couldn’t recall a time in which so many people at the top of the food chain were targets simultaneously of federal probes.

The former police chief. The city’s top prosecutor. Its top civil attorney….

“Just the Kealoha stuff alone is unprecedented,” said Ken Kobayashi, a retired Star-Advertiser reporter who covered Hawaii’s courts for more than 30 years.

Also facing federal scrutiny: Oahu’s under-construction rail line, at $9.2 billion the largest public works project in the state’s history.

The FBI and the local U.S. Attorney’s office are investigating, and grand jury subpoenas for tens of thou­sands of documents have been issued to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The focus of the probe has not been disclosed publicly.

Federal authorities also are pursuing a bribery case linked to government agencies in Hawaii and Micronesia that already has resulted in guilty pleas from the president of a local engineering firm and a Micronesian official.

Frank James Lyon of Honolulu-based Lyon Associates, from around 2011 to 2016, paid about $240,000 in bribes to obtain a $2.5 million contract with a Hawaii government agency that has yet to be identified, according to court records. The company did business with multiple state and city agencies. The probe is ongoing.

In addition, federal authorities are investigating at least two Hawaii trade unions and the state Department of Public Safety….

With more investigations ongoing, new cases and suspects are expected to be revealed in the months ahead, according to attorneys for witnesses or potential suspects….

read … Inouye and Mehau are Dead

Federal officials insist Honolulu step up its funding of rail

SA: … the FTA is requiring that Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council commit $25 million in city funds toward rail construction in the fiscal year that begins July 1 as well as a total of $92 million more during the following seven years before the federal government will resume funding.

It’s a bitter political pill for the Council to swallow. The original plan years ago was that no city funds would be used to construct the 20-mile rail line, which was supposed to be funded with revenue from a half-percent excise tax surcharge on Oahu, and $1.55 billion in federal funding….

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said the Council has little choice in the matter. “We have to do it, so we should have been preparing for this. There’s no getting around it, we have to pay it.”

She added, “I think if we just make $25 million in cuts, we’ll have the money. We’ve got to get through this, and we can’t make any more excuses, we just have to get through this.”

In fact, the Council can also borrow money as a way of providing the required funding for rail without cutting the city operating budget.

Council Budget Committee Chairman Joey Manahan said Tuesday he prepared an amendment to next year’s proposed construction budget that would earmark $25 million in borrowed funds for rail construction to satisfy the FTA. The committee will consider that budget amendment at a hearing on May 14, he said….

read … Federal officials insist Honolulu step up its funding of rail

Sources: UPW Member who died at Halawa prison was found with a knife in his chest—Was Accused Child Molester    

KHON: … Sources say the prison worker who died at Halawa Correctional Facility was found with a knife in his chest.

KHON2 has also learned that he was facing legal troubles. …

The Department of Public Safety says Fernandez was found unresponsive in a staff bathroom around 3:00 p.m. Monday. DPS Internal Affairs is working with Honolulu Police and the state attorney general's office to investigate.

Sources say Fernandez was working with two inmates in the kitchen. One of them found him on the bathroom floor with a knife in his chest. The state says he was a cook supervisor and had been working for the department for nearly eight years.

KHON2 has also learned that an arrest warrant was issued for Fernandez on May 2 for sex assault of a minor. Records show that he was released after posting bail of $30,000. …

Even though the legislative session is over, Nishihara wants Espinda to face the committee again to provide more answers to this and past incidents.

"I think the public probably deserves answers to these things. I know we certainly deserve answers to these things," said Nishihara.

He wants Espinda to meet with the public safety committee within the next few weeks….

read … Sources: Worker who died at Halawa prison was found with a knife in his chest

After manhunt, DPS Makes Excuses for release of Wanted Felon  from OCCC

HNN: … After an hours-long manhunt Tuesday, authorities captured a convicted felon who was allowed to walk out of OCCC ― despite a warrant for robbery.

Honolulu Police and deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service launched a manhunt for 26-year-old Russell R. Webb and re-arrested him in the Punchbowl area, six hours after his release.

He was allowed to leave the Oahu Community Correctional Center even though he is wanted in California for a 2015 warrant stemming from an armed robbery.

But the Public Safety Department contends it was not an accidental release, saying no one told them that Webb had a warrant.

“We cannot hold them past their court ordered release date without proper documentation,” the agency said, in a statement.

“If a law enforcement agency wants them held past their scheduled release they must provide the facility with a detainer which allows the facility to hold them longer. No detainer was received at the facility from any law enforcement agency to hold him past his scheduled release time.”

It appears that no one checked the national database, before Webb was let go….

read … After manhunt, authorities nab convicted felon released from OCCC

Soft on Crime: Rape Case Against Work Release Inmate Tossed out on Technicality

KGI: … A Fifth Circuit Judge on Tuesday dismissed a case against a Kauai Community Correctional Center inmate accused of raping a woman while out of prison on a work release program.

Stephen Makanani, 33, was indicted by a grand jury in December and charged with first-degree sexual assault for an incident that allegedly took place in August. Makanani admitted to having sex with the woman but has maintained the affair was entirely consensual….

Prosecutors sought an extended sentence for Makanani, who has previously been convicted of nine felonies in five different cases, but Tuesday, after nearly five months of pretrial litigation, the case was thrown out due to procedural mistakes made by prosecutors during grand jury proceedings in December.

Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe ruled that statements Makanani made to police were inadmissible in court because the KPD detective questioned Makanani without properly informing him of his right to remain silent. Because the grand jury’s decision was based in part on those statements, the indictment was also dismissed, and with it, the entire case against Makanani.

Makanani’s attorney, Craig De Costa, said his client was interviewed by police about the alleged rape as part of an investigation to determine whether he had violated the conditions of his work release program. Because he was questioned in regards to employment, rather than as part of a criminal investigation, De Costa said his client was compelled to answer, meaning that when those statements were later submitted as evidence to the grand jury, prosecutors violated Makanani’s right to a fair trial….

Makanani will still likely face charges related to the alleged sexual assault. According to Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar, prosecutors will simply refile the case and start the process over again.

“This is a bump in the road but nothing we haven’t seen before,” Kollar said in an email Tuesday….

read … nothing we haven’t seen before

DOCARE spent thousands on tasers. Four years later, they remain unused

HNN: … Back in 2015, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources paid more than $72,000 to buy 30 tasers.

But four years later, none of the tasers have been deployed and are now gathering dust in the Land Board’s armory in Pearl City. …

That inactivity resulted in many of the taser’s batteries going bad. Two years ago, the department had to spent another $25,000 to buy 150 replacement batteries.

But in a statement, the land board said the delays were partly due to defects with the tasers LED screens and partly due to delays in getting training protocols approved by the union….

activists worry that without nonlethal weapons available DLNR officers may resort to higher levels of violence -- especially when faced with acts of civil disobedience like the Mauna Kea protests….

The Land Board now plans to deploy the tasers by mid-summer….

Related:

2016: DOCARE Chief Forced Out—Retaliation for Investigating DLNR Corruption, Theft of Guns

2017: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President

2018: HGEA Claims Another Pelt: DOCARE Chief Quits

2019: Third Chief in Three Years for DOCARE

read … Another state agency spent thousands on tasers. Four years later, they remain unused

Alleged Maui Jail Rioter Sentenced for Police Impound Lot Break-in

MN: …David Leialoha Jr., 26, was sentenced Tuesday to an 18-month jail term as part of four years’ probation….

In one case, Leialoha and co-defendant Justin Yamashita were charged with trespassing and entering a white Honda Civic to remove items while it was impounded Jan. 9, 2018, at the Wailuku Police Station, according to police.

The vehicle belonging to Yamashita was impounded after a traffic stop the day before when a K-9 alerted to the odor of narcotics, police said.

Defense attorney Jon Apo said it was “one of the more brazen crimes that I’ve represented someone on.”

Apo said Leialoha was “helping the person whose car was impounded get the drugs back.”

“If he got the drugs back, he would get a take of it,” Apo said.

In his other case, Leialoha was charged with possessing methamphetamine and a Colt .45-caliber pistol on Jan. 29, 2018.

Judge Cahill noted that Leialoha is a graduate of the Maui Drug Court program of intensive supervision and treatment. He is charged with first-degree burglary in two pending cases on Oahu.

When Cahill asked why Leialoha had been held at Halawa Correctional Facility at one point, Sears said the defendant was transferred there because of the March 11 riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center.

The Department of Public Safety reported that inmates suspected of participating in the riot were flown to Oahu and transferred to Halawa.

Leialoha has prior convictions for first-degree burglary and second-degree theft….

read … Man sentenced for breaking into police impound lot

Wahiawa Hospital to become Stabilization Center for Mentally Ill

HNN: … A day after announcing it would halt surgeries, Wahiawa General Hospital has found a new line of business: Providing care for people in mental health crises.

On the streets, the need is undeniable.

Mental health advocates estimate there are close to 600 homeless people suffering from severe mental illness across the state. Hundreds more are struggling with addiction.

But when it comes to getting them help, treatment facilities are few and far between. …

“There’s an urgent need for these services,” said Brian Cunningham, the head of Wahiawa General.

Eager to be part of the solution, Cunningham announced the hospital is teaming up with the state to offer those high-needs patients care that will get them off the street.

“This is a stabilization program,” said Cunningham. “So we can manage these people, our citizens and hopefully stop that revolving door.”

The plan is to re-purpose some unused space on the hospital’s second floor, creating around 40 beds for people in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment.

A typical stay would be around two weeks. From there, patients could potentially transition into long-term residential programs.

“These are beds that are long overdue,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green….

The goal is to have the unit opened by the beginning of next year….

CB: New Psychiatric Beds Could Close Costly Gap In Health Care

read … Oahu hospital to launch ‘stabilization program’ for those in mental health crises

Rate increases boost Hawaiian Electric Industries’ earnings 13.5%

SA: … Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.’s net income increased 13.5% in the first quarter as it benefited from rate increases at its Oahu and Maui utilities, new solar-plus-storage power purchase agreements and a strong performance from subsidiary American Savings Bank.

Investors bid up shares of the company 33 cents to a 52-week high of $42.02 on today after the results were announced in what was an overall dismal day for the stock market. HEI’s stock is now up 14.8% this year….

read … Rate increases boost Hawaiian Electric Industries’ earnings 13.5%

HECO, PUC Look for Excuses to Justify Expensive Battery Farms

IM: … Constance H. Lau, HEI President and Chief Executive Officer, explained the West Loch Photovoltaic (PV) system and the proposed battery energy storage system (BESS) that were submitted to the Public Utilities Commission for approval. Future plans include a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for a battery at the Campbell Industrial Park (CIP)….

The previous day, the Commission issued an order on Stage 2 Request for Proposals for renewable energy and storage on the five islands that the HECO Companies serve. Interested stakeholders may submit comments and concerns in docket no. 2017-0352 to the Commission by May 20th. Thereafter, “the commission intends to issue an order providing guidance to the Companies on the Phase Draft RFPs.”

“Last week after considering the cost implications, the Commission declined to approve our proposed addition of a battery storage system to the West Loch PV system. The PV system was approved in 2017 and construction is to be completed this year. So, adding the storage after the fact proved less economics and other options.”

“As we said what the Commission is trying to do is look at the system holistically now, which is also something that we are trying to do and to balance all the resources across the system, whether they are generation resources, whether they are battery resources, which sometimes are generation and sometimes are grid support and grid services, and because of that, it's important to take a holistic look, when you look at individual projects.

“And so specifically, in the case of the West Loch PV project, as I mentioned in the prepared remarks that had originally been approved as the lowest-cost solar on our grid.

“And then when we went out for the renewable RFP Phase 1, what we actually got in response to our new renewable dispatchable PPA was solar-plus-storage. And as you know, you know that it was the trend it was all renewable and then people started pairing storage with the renewables in a very economic way.

“And so the Commission had asked, if we would add a storage element, but it's not as easy to do that with a project that has already been -- begun as renewable only.”…

read … HECO Looks for Excuses to Justify Expensive Battery Farm

Hawaii County Missing Transportation Money Found Buried at State DoT

HTH: … Some $6.9 million in federal funds was freed up for Hawaii County buses and Mass Transit operations following state intervention in a county paperwork breakdown.

The reimbursement money, covering the past three fiscal years, will be available to the county upon completion of the required Federal Transit Administration reports, according to a memo Monday from Jade Butay, director of the state Department of Transportation. The grants also require county matching funds of 25% to 100%.

The Hawaii County Council, meeting Tuesday as the Committee on Public Works and Mass Transit, seemed reassured after hearing from Ed Sniffen, deputy director of the state transportation department. The federal money is sent to the state on behalf of the counties.

“There is no money that is at risk right now,” Sniffen said.

Sniffen said his department is setting up procedures to take a more active role in making sure counties are keeping up with federal reporting requirements so they can get their money. The state also is looking for training opportunities for county staff.

“We’ve adjusted our role,” Sniffen said. “We’re very comfortable we’ll bring down all the fund this year.”

Mass Transit Administrator Brenda Carreira, close to tears at several points during her presentation, said her agency is in the midst of entering data into a spreadsheet from more than 8,000 paper reports for last year alone. Other departments volunteered staff to help accomplish the gargantuan task, but they’re not finished yet.

Carreira, the third administrator in a year, took over Oct. 1. She inherited an agency plagued by inconsistent Hele-On bus schedules, broken buses, a drop in ridership, a county performance audit that blasted sloppy cash-handling practices and low employee morale.

One of the former administrators, Tiffany Kai, was in charge of managing the grants. She stepped down as top administrator when problems began surfacing in 2017 and is now a program manager in the department….

Best Comment: “This should be funny. Why is it not funny?”

read … State DOT helps county Mass Transit recoup $6.9M in federal grants

Anderson Elected Chairman Honolulu Council

CB: … Tommy Waters was sworn as a member of the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday after working overtime to win a special election last month against Trevor Ozawa….

Meanwhile, Councilman Ikaika Anderson was elected council chairman Wednesday, taking the post that Ozawa had expected to hold earlier this year….

read … Anderson

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