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Tuesday, June 04, 2019
June 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:25 PM :: 1634 Views

Hawaii joins states suing OxyContin maker

Feds Identify Hawaii's Six Worst Nursing Homes

Katherine Kealoha's grandmother says that she 'didn't know' about a joint checking account

HNN:  In day nine of the Kealoha corruption trial, Katherine's grandmother's recorded deposition was played….

…When Puana was asked if she still lived in her home, she stated that she did not, and lost her home through a reverse mortgage. She then went on to say that the reverse mortgage was Katherine's idea, and she didn't know what it was at the time.

Katherine allegedly told her grandmother that if she got the money, she would use it to pay off her bills and refinance her home, then help her uncle Gerard Puana. 

Prosecuting attorneys asked, "If you knew the reverse mortgage was not going to be paid off in three to six months, would you have agreed to sign the reverse mortgage?" Florence responded, "No, I would not...I was so confused…so finally I said I would trust my granddaughter and sign it.”

Then, Florence was asked about her bank account.

"During the course of getting the reverse mortgage, did Katherine ask you to open a joint bank account?" Florence said that she did not.

Florence also stated that she did not understand that she was opening a joint bank account, and that she never received any documentation on the bank account from her granddaughter.

Florence then stated that she never received any money from the reverse mortgage. …

In the account, it showed that $23,976.69 was spent at the Sheraton Waikiki -- which Florence did not spend. When asked who spent it, Florence said, “Katherine did. That was for her husband's breakfast...I wouldn’t have let her because I didn’t have that kind of money.”…

In June of 2013, Katherine testified in a civil case her grandmother filed against her. During her deposition, her grandmother leaned over to Gerard and said “she’s lying.” She was asked to leave the court room.  

While waiting for Gerard to pull the car around, she stood next to her grandson in law by marriage, Officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen. While they waited, he asked her what kind of car Gerard drove. Florence said that Nguyen was texting someone while he was talking to her….  

read … Katherine Kealoha's grandmother says that she 'didn't know' about a joint checking account

Judge raises voice at federal prosecutors during Kealoha Corruption Trial

KITV: … Prosecutors called FBI Special Agent Caryn Ackerman to the stand. She talked about her investigation into the alleged mailbox theft, but Judge Seabright became angry when the testimony transcript from Shiraishi was brought up.

The government had not responded to a motion filed by Shiraishi's Attorney by the start of court proceedings this morning. Seabright told the government he was upset because it meant he was expected to rule quickly on adding that testimony into evidence without giving it proper review. …

read … Judge raises voice at federal prosecutors during Kealoha Corruption Trial

ACLU: Proposed Mauna Kea Rules Unconstitutional

SA: … Mandy Fernandes, policy director of the ACLU of Hawaii, testified that these proposed rules might infringe on the constitutional rights of those seeking access for traditional, customary and religious practices and for those who want to engage in free speech against TMT. The ACLU also objected to the high fines ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 for subsequent violations. The ACLU called it “grossly disproportionate to the underlying offense.” …

read … Thirty Meter Telescope opponents blast University of Hawaii’s proposed rules for Mauna Kea

Green Energy Plan: Burn Hawaii’s Forests Down

IM: …  Hu Honua came into existence in 2008, proposing a biomass-to-electricity power plant in Pepe`ekeo on the Hāmākua Coast of the Big Island. Much of the fuel would come from chopping down and burning Hawai`i forests.

HELCO and Hu Honua filed a Power Purchase Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission in 2012.

The Commission approved the agreement. Hu Honua missed several milestones, and HELCO canceled the contract.

HELCO and Hu Honua filed an Amended and Revised Power Purchase Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission in 2017

The Commission approved the agreement Life of the Land filed an appeal before the Commission failed to comply their 2011 legal mandate to examine greenhouse gases. The Hawai`i Supreme Court ruled 5-0 in favor of Life of the Land on May 10, 2019.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court will issue a Judgement on Appeal remanding the case back to the Commission. Typically the Judgement on Appeal is issued 30-60 days after the decision is issued.

The Commission will then issue a procedural order specifying the issues to be considered and the anticipated timeline….

The precedent-setting “EU Biomass Plaintiffs v. European Union” lawsuit was with the European General Court in Luxembourg on March 4, 2019. 

The lawsuit challenges “the treatment of forest biomass as a renewable fuel in the European Union’s 2018 revised Renewable Energy Directive (known as RED II)” arguing “that RED II will accelerate widespread forest devastation and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions by not counting CO2 emissions from burning wood fuels.”

“Wood-fired power plants emit more CO2 per unit of energy generated than coal plants, but RED II counts these emissions as zero.”

“The treatment of forest biomass as low or zero–carbon renewable energy in both RED I and RED II has and will continue to increase harvesting pressure on forests in Europe and North America to meet the growing demand for woody biomass fuel in the EU.”…

(Meanwhile enviros oppose burning garbage to generate electricity.)

read … Yamamoto Caliboso Seeks Status Conference for Intentionally Burning Forests

Vacation rentals tax bill removes pressure on Councils to Act

SA Editorial: … Proponents of Senate Bill 1292, which now sits on Ige’s desk, have projected that the measure could generate as much as $46 million in state transient accommodations tax (TAT) revenues from owners of vacation rentals, the overwhelming majority of them operating without county land-use clearances.

The measure would authorize vacation-rental online booking sites, such as Airbnb and Expedia, to collect taxes from the rental hosts on behalf of the state.

Trouble is, this revenue would start pouring in well in advance of crucial county legislation needed to see that the rentals are operating legally.

This is in particular a problem for the City and County of Honolulu. The City Council has been stalling for years about enacting proposals that would set limits on what rental activities would be permitted, and to what extent they’d be accommodated in neighborhoods around Oahu.

In the past this has left Ige and others with the fear — and it’s a rational one — that once the state accepts tax payments, it would be giving legitimacy to the scofflaw businesses….

read … Vacation rentals tax bill premature

Economists: Higher Revenue Estimates Do Not Signal Economic Growth In Hawaii

CB: … Experts attribute unexpected revenue boost to increased income tax rate for higher-income earners. ….

read … Economists: Higher Revenue Estimates Do Not Signal Economic Growth In Hawaii

Years-long investigation into allegations of corruption at Boating Division drags on

HNN: … New emails shed light on a years-long investigation into allegations of corruption and retaliation at the state’s Boating Division.

The case came to the attention of Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth in 2015 when Keauhou boater Bill Murtagh said his son’s permit application for a mooring was altered by state Boating Division staff.

Since, Roth said, he’s heard more complaints about the agency.

"The fact that you would have people retaliating in government against people for trying to bring things out, that is very alarming," he said.

Hawaii News Now obtained emails sent earlier this year between Roth and state Land Department leaders that shed light on the Attorney General’s investigation into the issue.

In an email Feb. 26, Roth wrote that he was “speechless” after speaking to a DLNR deputy director to hear that the Attorney General’s investigation into the division could make no finding.

DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case wrote in an email back to Roth on March 1: “Your statement of an unsubstantiated Attorney General investigation is not accurate."

Roth says he’s now asking DLNR for a report on the investigation, but hasn’t heard back.

"If it's incorrect about unsubstantiated then I believe it was substantiated," he said.

Murtagh says he's frustrated and has been waiting years for a resolution.

"They were altering official state documents, forging them and to me it got a little bit scary at that point," he said….

read … Years-long investigation into allegations of corruption at Boating Division drags on

Change would allow for property liens on TVRs

KGI: … The Planning Committee is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Historic County Building, followed by a meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

The Planning Committee will consider a bill for an ordinance amending the county code related to enforcement, legal procedures and penalties.

The purpose of this bill is to “strengthen existing mechanisms to assist the Planning Department with its enforcement of the codes, statutes, and regulations that it has the authority to enforce. The proposed revisions and additions will better enable the Department to, among other things, “Place a lien on property where the owner has refused to rectify the violation or pay their civil fine within 30 days of the County’s notice of violation and order.” …

MN: Carlos, Alexa PenaVega caught up in Maui’s vacation rental housing debate

read … Change would allow for property liens

Panel advances measure that gives vendors more options for Styrofoam alternatives

HTH: … The 2017 law allowed compostable or recyclable plastic containers as substitutes to polystyrene. But the county on Dec. 1 stopped accepting No. 5 plastic “clamshell” containers for recycling because there is no longer a market to recycle them.

Bill 74, sponsored by Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, gives the vendors more wiggle room. It was loosened further Monday with an amendment changing “Is” to “may be” processed into material used in new products.

“I think the council has heard loud and clear it’s going to be incremental, there are going to be steps going forward,” Richards said. “At the same time we can’t put our companies out of business.”

The measure also was approved by the Environmental Management Commission and faces two more hearings at the council.

“Everything was tied in to our recycling program and that wreaked havoc,” said Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung.….

read … Styrofoam

Bills to know on the Governor's desk

PBN: …There are 269 bills currently sitting on Gov. David Ige's desk. Here are those that impact energy, retail and transportation….

read … Bills to know on the Governor's desk

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