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Wednesday, June 12, 2019
June 12, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:58 PM :: 860 Views

Hawaii #2 for Suicide: Drug, Alcohol Deaths up

Republicans Against Bill 31: No Sanctuary City

Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee in trouble for alleged disloyalty

SA: …The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Board of Trustees has a(n unconstitutional) code of conduct policy that requires trustees to publicly support a board decision even though he or she might disagree with it personally.

It’s a policy that appears to have gotten one trustee in trouble with his OHA colleagues.

The board has proposed to formally investigate charges alleging public statements disloyal to OHA and unsupportive of the board’s decisions.

… After discussing the proposal in a closed-door executive session last week, the board deferred a decision to carry out an investigation….

Former OHA trustee Rowena Akana described the board’s action as “rubbish” and said the rules have never been enforced against anybody.

Akana, the 28-year trustee who lost reelection in November, said the rules are loosely written and used as a tool to allow trustees in power the ability to punish anyone they don’t like or to silence dissent.

“The rules are made for other people, not them,” she said.

Jeffrey Portnoy, a media and First Amendment attorney who represents the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, said restricting opinions about board decisions is “bad policy” and “problematic,” especially for politicians who have to run for reelection.

“It can be argued that it’s a violation of free speech,” he said….

Portnoy, the attorney, who is a member of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, said he personally chooses not to criticize his board’s decisions.

“But if the board did have a rule like this, I would either resign or challenge it,” he said….

Background: OHA Trustees target one of their own for ‘investigation’--then chicken out

read … Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee in trouble for alleged disloyalty

Feds: One Month to Evaluate Latest Rail Recovery Scheme

SA: … Following a meeting with federal transit officials Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson said they’re optimistic that a recovery plan for the city’s over-budget $9.2 billion rail project will be approved.

That would clear the way for the city to receive $744 million in federal funding that city officials deem critical for construction of the 21-station, East Kapolei-­to-Ala Moana project. The Federal Transit Administration has been withholding the contribution pending approval of a recovery plan requiring the city to explain how the project will be financed after its price tag ballooned from a $5.2 billion budget in 2012.

Caldwell said FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams and other officials “were hopeful that they can give us an answer on whether the recovery plan is acceptable or not within a month or so. My feeling is that it was positive, and I’m hopeful.”…

FTA officials also want to see the details of the bid proposals being submitted later this year by potential private partners the city hopes to bring aboard to finish construction, Caldwell said.

If the proposals come in “within the zone that is close to the affordability cap, I think we can expect to see the first tranche of money coming from the FTA in the first half of 2020,” he said….

read … Caldwell optimistic about Honolulu rail funding after meeting federal officials in D.C.

National Gathering of Mayors—Another Chance to Buy Influence with Caldwell Admin

HNN:  … The U.S. Conference of Mayors will be held on Oahu later this month. It’s expected to cost the city about $5 million to put on.

But taxpayers aren’t the only ones paying for it. As good as that sounds, it’s raising some red flags to some who worry about conflicts of interest.

The Caldwell Administration said it has raised more than $3.3 million from private donors to pay for the conference in Waikiki at the end of June.

Much of that money came from city contractors and subcontractors or from companies like AirBNB and Uber who are fighting hard against City Council measures to regulate their businesses.

“I think there are some concerns" said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii Political Science professor. “Sponsors who do business with the city or are involved in rail projects ... you have to wonder what they’re getting as a result of the sponsorship.”

The city said (uh) the sponsorships (uhhh) pose no ethical problems (uh-huh)….

read … Honolulu is prepping for a national gathering of mayors. But who’s footing the bill?

Mitch Roth for Big Island Mayor?

HPR: … Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth is in his second term, and is eligible to run again for the office in 2020. But he’s got some other thoughts.

“A lot of people have been approaching me about running for Mayor. As I’ve started to see what’s going on, I have been considering running.”

One of his major concerns: Hawaii County’s growing budget.

“Everybody has to buy using these procurement contracts but we may not be negotiating for the best contracts that we can. I’ll give you an example, our computers, we bought 23, I may be able to get those computers at a price that’s lesser on Amazon. When I became the prosecutor we asked, why aren’t we doing these things, and a lot of times the answer was, well, we’ve always done it this way.”

Roth says the County needs to look beyond its borders at best practices on how to save money.

“We need to look at ways other places have done things to really make big differences. We have to take some common sense approaches. If this is the way we do it, why do we do it this way, and can we do it better?  If we have the whole picture and we’re communicating that whole picture and not hiding stuff from each other, we’re all going to do well.” 

Roth says another priority would be open communication between the Administration and the County Council, which he says is lacking.

“This year we have some really big overtime issues. The Council had no knowledge about overtime, no knowledge about our supplemental requests. If you’re making decisions, having that information is so important.” ….

read … Hawaii County Official Mulls Running For The Top Office

Where’s The Money, DOE? Time To Turn Over Public Financial Records

CB: … A nonprofit organization with the willingness and the resources to produce a financial transparency model for education spending is being thwarted by the state…..

Related: DOE, Fork Over That General Ledger!

read … Where’s The Money, DOE? Time To Turn Over Public Financial Records

City-funded domestic violence shelter that was barely used is slated to close down

HNN: … sources tell Hawaii News Now that staff at the center broke the news to residents Monday, telling them they have until Aug. 31 to find a new place to stay….

“Basically to house one person in the safe house would cost the city about $100,000 per year for up to two years,” Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan said.

"And we're only winning half the cases that are going through the safe house. We've only won 14 out of 26."

Those numbers prompted the City Council to cut $180,000 from the center’s budget ― money that would pay for around-the-clock security.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the city Prosecutor’s Office said that “without security there can be no safe house.”

Manahan says that’s not entirely true.

If the Prosecutor’s Office wanted to, he said, it could find the money in its own budget….

read … City-funded domestic violence shelter that was barely used is slated to close down

Maui Council Budget Chair Dazed and Confused—Doesn’t Know Up from Down

MN: … At a news conference Thursday, the head of the Maui County Council’s budget committee made a statement that ran contrary to previous reports — that the council’s budget was actually lower than the mayor’s.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t give the mayor the $869.5 million that he asked for in his proposed budget, and in passing a budget that was $46 million less, I believe that we’ll still be fiscally responsible and meet the needs of the community,” Budget Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said.

The statement, however, proved untrue. Administration and council officials confirmed that the council’s operating and capital improvements budget of $823.5 million is about $43 million more than the mayor’s $780.8 million budget.

Office of Council Services staff said Tuesday that Rawlins-Fernandez was misled by a staff error.  But in the days after the news conference, the budget chairwoman defended the comparison and criticized media outlets for reporting otherwise….

read … Council budget in fact $43M more than mayor’s

DHHL Claims it Will Ramp up Housing Construction

CB: … Over 60% of the more than 200,000 acres of land granted long ago to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands may never have any homes for Native Hawaiians built on it.

About 59,660 acres are in conservation areas that contain endangered species and cultural resources, or may simply be geologically unsuitable for development. Another 65,218 acres cannot be developed in the next two decades because they lack infrastructure such as roads and water lines necessary to support homes.

DHHL has long been criticized for its slow progress in getting Native Hawaiians onto homestead lands that can be developed, and its failure to build new rental housing. In 2017, the department produced no new housing units for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries, those with at least 50% Hawaiian blood.

However, DHHL awarded 292 lots in 2017 and 2018, and has plans to award 1,300 more within the next five years, according to a recent presentation to state lawmakers. More than 28,000 applicants are still on the waiting list

About 34%, or around 70,000 acres, are planned to be used for homesteading purposes, according to the DHHL. And only about 9,500 acres of that are planned for residential lots. The rest would be agricultural or pastoral lots for homesteaders with livestock….

Background: Prince Kuhio’s Fight to Americanize Hawaii

read … The Problem With Hawaiian Homestead Land? Much Of It Can’t Be Developed

Saving for a down payment on a home in Hawaii takes 40 years, report says

HNN: … In Honolulu, for example, median home values went up by 48% from 2013 to 2018. But the median household income has only gone up by 23% over the same period.

“Today’s least affordable cities became even further out of reach for aspiring homeowners over the last five years,” the report said. “In top-ranked Los Angeles, home values increased by 59%, while incomes lagged far behind at only 23% growth.”

Meanwhile in Honolulu, the amount needed for a 20% down payment grew from $97,000 in 2013 to $143,000 ― a difference of $46,000 …. 

PDF: Unison Affordability-Report...

read … Saving for a down payment on a home in Hawaii takes 40 years, report says

Kauai County attorneys push courts on TVR issue

KGI: … County attorneys are taking increasingly aggressive legal action against the owners of short-term vacation rental properties who failed to renew annual permits on time.

Already this year, county attorneys have filed civil complaints on behalf of the planning department against at least six transient vacation rental owners in Fifth Circuit Court, and Kauai County Deputy Attorney Maryann Sasaki said that her office intends to initiate about 30 more similar cases in the coming months….

read … County attorneys push courts on TVR issue

‘Shift Change’ – 1 Hr Police Response time to Call for Wanted Fugitive

HTH: … The owner of a Mountain View home where a police officer fired a shot Saturday morning while apprehending a wanted fugitive criticized the slowness of police response to her call for assistance.

The woman, who requested anonymity, said she called 911 at 6:52 a.m.

“The police didn’t show up for more than an hour after the initial 911 call,” she said. “That kind of defeats the purpose of 911. It’s supposed to be urgent and an emergency. It was a mess.”

Police arrived at the Ihope Road home at 8 a.m., the woman said — after she made three calls to dispatch, seeking assistance because of an intruder passed out in a van with the motor running in her driveway.

During the second call, a half-hour after the first, the resident said she was told by a dispatcher it was shift change time. During the final call, the woman said, she was “literally yelling at the dispatcher.”

“I know it’s not the dispatcher’s fault, but I had to release my anger somewhere, because that was just plain wrong. We had already mentioned that there were children in the house,” she said. “… One of the dispatchers said, ‘Oh, there’s a shift change.’ I was thinking we could’ve been stabbed or shot and we could’ve been bleeding … . But because the police had a shift change, that was more important than this 911 call. I was furious at that point, frustrated and upset.”

The homeowner said Fire Department medics arrived before police and “noticed the vehicle was hot-wired.” ….

read … Mountain View homeowner calls police response to 911 call ‘a mess’

Soft on Crime: MADD outraged over hit-and-run sentence

SA: … Jerry Putnam was sentenced Monday by Circuit Court Judge Catherine Remigio to five years of probation with the possibility of only 30 days’ incarceration. McNamee said the victim’s father and brother stormed out of the courtroom after hearing the sentence.

Putnam, 48, was behind the wheel of a car that crashed into a moped operated by Andrews on Kapiolani Boulevard near Ala Moana Center on May 26, 2017. Police said the impact threw Andrews, 32, from his moped. A city ambulance took Andrews in critical condition to The Queen’s Medical Center, where he died three days later.

An Uber driver saw Putnam stop, get out to check the damage to his vehicle, get back in and drive off. The Uber driver followed Putnam to Putnam’s Salt Lake home. The driver told police that after the crash Putnam drove erratically, disregarding stop signs and signal lights.

Putnam called 911 from his home. He failed a field sobriety test and had a blood- alcohol concentration of 0.12. The legal threshold for drunken driving is 0.08 BAC.

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment in October charging Putnam with first-degree negligent homicide and fleeing the scene of a fatal traffic accident. Both charges are Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Putnam pleaded no contest in February to both charges and asked Remigio to defer his no-contest pleas to give him the opportunity to avoid conviction.

At sentencing Monday, Deputy Prosecutor Lawrence Sousie told Remigio state law does not allow deferred pleas for negligent homicide and recommended a 10-year prison sentence.

Remigio sentenced Putnam to the probation, one year of which he will have to serve behind bars. But she is also giving Putnam the opportunity for early release after 30 days….

read … MADD outraged over hit-and-run sentence

This Texas Lawyer Flies Marshallese Women Through Hawaii For Black Market Adoptions

CB: … In texts and emails with adoptive parents, Dallas lawyer Jody Hall openly flouts laws restricting Marshallese adoptions in the U.S…..

read … This Texas Lawyer Flies Marshallese Women Through Hawaii For Black Market Adoptions

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