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Wednesday, June 19, 2019
June 19, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:23 PM :: 2637 Views

Hawaii State Veterans Summit

Damien Kim Leaving HART Board as Federal Investigators Close in

CB: … Damien Kim, who helped oversee the project since HART was formed, asked not to be re-appointed. He’s not the only board member leaving this summer….

Ember Shinn has asked not to be re-appointed when her term expires June 30, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office confirmed Tuesday….

When it was formed, HART’s board had 10 seats, including nine voting members. It was later expanded to14 seats as part of a 2017 state bailout package.

During his eight years on the board, Kim has seen at least 16 other members leave….

Overall, the HART agency itself has grappled with widespread turnover in key management positions….  

Background: HART board chair under federal investigation — but it’s not about the rail project  -- The FBI is investigating the local electrical workers’ and plumbers’ unions over a $6 million investment in a private company -- Local 1186 is headed by Damien Kim....

read … HART Loses Its Last Original Board Member

Prosecutors: Kealoha ‘Witness Tampering’ and Lies Won Civil Case

ILind: … Prosecutors then cited an instance during the earlier civil trial when there was a key dispute over the dates when Katherine Kealoha made certain payments to her uncle, Gerard Puana.

Kealoha’s father, Rudolph Puana, initially testified the payments had been made around 2008 or 2009. But after a 15 minute break in the proceedings, Puana returned and changed his testimony after apparently consulting with his wife and daughter, and reviewing a timeline he was presented during the break.

Prosecutors now describe this as Kealoha’s “tampering” with his testimony, one example of trial misconduct they site.

Prosecutors, in their legal brief, argue further that Katherine Kealoha was “able to falsely present herself to the civil jury as a financially sound and secure public servant” because the Puanas did not have access to financial records to dispute her claims.

Then they unload on Kealoha.

This portrayal is pure fiction. Katherine Kealoha climbed the professional and societal ladder by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Taitos, Gerard Puana, and Florence Puana; by acquiring bank loans through fraud; by falsifying documents; by creating an alias to forge trust documents, submit false letters of recommendation to the Hawaii State Senate, and dodge legal scrutiny; by stealing the identity of a Honolulu Police Department officer; and by seeking the “highest form of legal retribution” against anyone who threatened her status and power. The Puanas and the civil jury did not know the truth about Katherine Kealoha. The United States does. And while we have presented, or intend to present, some of this evidence during our case-in-chief, we do not intend to take the time to compare and contrast what this jury knows versus what the civil jury knew. Should the Court permit the admission of the Verdict Form, it will open the door to the admission of evidence concerning the Kealohas’ bank fraud, and Katherine Kealoha’s identity theft and theft from the Taitos’ trust, matters previously severed from this trial by the Court.

Finally, prosecutors point to what they allege is Katherine Kealoha’s false claim, made during the earlier civil trial, that she had been the victim of identity theft which clouded her financial history.

Again, while the Puanas were not armed to combat these lies, the United States is. Katherine Kealoha’s credit problems are hers and hers alone. Moreover, in 2009, she attempted to bolster her false “identity theft” claim by forging a police report about that false claim. For those acts, Katherine Kealoha faces four counts of aggravated identity theft in Case No. 18-00068 JMS-WRP (Counts 9-12). Additionally, worse than simply having bad credit, the Kealohas’ bad credit and insatiable thirst for money precipitated the rampant bank fraud charged against them in Case No. 18-00068 JMS-WRP (Counts 1-8).

These examples are but a sampling of the systemic errors imbedded in the civil trial. If this jury receives the Verdict Form from the civil trial, they should also be provided the facts necessary know why it should not be trusted.

read … Kealoha trial surprises could continue to the end

New Kealoha Lawyer Makes Fool of Himself

CB: … Wheat and his team initially opposed Sumida taking the stand Tuesday, but Partington argued to Judge Seabright that Sumida was necessary to refute the government’s claimed motive in the case.

Partington specifically said he wanted Sumida to testify about how he and Kealoha never had any doubt they would win the civil case against the Puanas, which would undermine the theory she needed to frame him for the theft of her mailbox.

“Their case was so strong that they would not lose,” Partington said.

“What kind of lawyer says that?” Seabright interrupted as several members of the courtroom audience chuckled.

“A lawyer who’s right,” Partington responded.

“That lawyer needs more malpractice insurance,” Seabright said….

read … As Katherine Kealoha’s Defense Unfolds, She Still Considers Testifying

Council members sped up passage of vacation rental bills to Influence Ige on SB1292

SA: … Key Honolulu City Council members say they moved up the votes on two game-changing vacation rental bills in hopes of influencing Gov. David Ige as he decides whether to sign a controversial bill passed by the state Legislature at the end of October.

Ige has until Monday to announce his intention to veto any bills passed by this year’s Legislature. Senate Bill 1292, which survived a narrow a 13-12 vote, would allow vacation rental hosting platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and Home­Away to collect taxes on behalf of the state.

The legislative measure generated large opposition, including from those bothered that it would allow the platforms to collect taxes for the state without disclosing to the counties the names of vacation rental owners, the locations of the rentals or other information….

Anderson said he wants the governor to reject the Senate bill on several grounds.

“I don’t feel it’s right that government collect taxes from an illegal business,” Anderson said.

Additionally, “this is a land use issue, and land use issues are determined by the counties,” he said. “Leave it to us to handle it. And we’ve handled it with our action Monday.”

Menor said, however, he’s not certain he wants Ige to veto the Senate bill. He just wanted to send a message to Ige that his administration should review the bill’s language thoroughly to ensure it won’t preempt recent legislation by the city and the other counties that regulate vacation rentals, including Monday’s bills….

Big Q: Should Senate Bill 1292, authorizing platforms such as Airbnb to collect vacation-rental taxes for the state, be signed into law?

read …Council members sped up passage of vacation rental bills

Which TVR Bill will Caldwell Sign?

HNN: …  Sean Davidson is a chef that helps cater events at vacation rentals. He worries the trickle down effect from tougher regulations on vacation rentals will for him turn feast to famine.

"It's already hard enough to get these gigs and stay constant," said Davidson.

Chef and owner of Course Hawaii, Andrew Stone says he started a side pickle business three years ago anticipating that a quarter of his catering business could go sour.

"I'm just one of a thousand people that are going to end up losing their job," said Stone.

Owners of illegal vacation rentals were too afraid to speak out after the city council passed two bills that toughen regulations, but predict dire consequences to the economy….

City attorneys warned the council the two bills conflict because the master use tables in each bill don't match and that governs how the land is used.

"So the mayor needs to decide which bills or both bills if he's going to sign both of them," said Anderson.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he'd sign 89 into law, but didn't indicate what he'll do about the other bill….

read … Worry over the city council’s vacation rental rules spreads to other businesses

Honolulu rail authority must replace 15 cracked canopy arms

SA: … The city will redesign and replace portions of 15 metal “canopy arms” that were erected at three rail stations after flaws were discovered in similar arms that were fabricated for the rail line, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation….

Rail officials had expressed concern that problems with the canopy arms might delay that interim opening, but Robbins said HART directed the engineering company AECOM about two weeks ago to immediately redesign the arms to avoid any further delays….

The arms are built in two segments, and the original design called for the upper arm to be constructed out of grade 50 steel that is then galvanized to help protect it from the elements. The lower segments of the arms were constructed out of grade 100 steel, but in some cases the lower arms cracked after they were welded and galvanized….

“What we have determined through our expert consultant metallurgist is that the grade 100 steel on the lower arm is more susceptible to cracking, particularly when you put it in a galvanizing bath, which is needed for corrosion protection,” Robbins told the HART board Monday….

The redesigned lower canopy arms will use grade 50 steel, which will require that they be somewhat larger than was called for in the original design, Robbins said….

read … Honolulu rail authority must replace 15 cracked canopy arms

Use County-Owned Land for Affordable Housing

MN: … The proposal, transmitted to Mayor Michael Victorino and Lori Tsuhako, director of Housing and Human Concerns on June 10, calls for the county to issue requests for proposals to develop rental housing. In the RFP, the county would identify county-owned land that is appropriate for building and seek bids from developers. The administration and council would be involved in awarding the bid.

The winning bidder would receive the land through ownership or extended land lease with a minimal fee; a grant of $5 million to $20 million to assist with design, infrastructure and construction; the waiving of most or all permit fees and real property taxes for the entire lease or a timeline agreed upon by the parties; and the expediting of permit processing ….

read … Molina calls for county-backed affordable rentals

Maui Budget: Anti-GMO Wack-jobs on Council Again Show They Have No Clue

MN: … Several of the mayor’s vetoes dealt with unclear language; Managing Director Sandy Baz explained that “the council and the community will be holding the administration accountable to implementing the budget, so we need to make sure we’re clear on what those items are.”

“What the administration has to follow is the ordinance,” Baz said. “The prior administration got into a lot of hot water because there was a lot of discussion on the council floor about the specific topic, but the actual ordinance didn’t change.”

He added that in prior budget processes, the budget chairperson produced an “Exhibit 1” document, essentially a working version of the budget that the committee used and that the mayor could review to see the changes. That wasn’t prepared this year, Baz said.

King said that both she and Rawlins-Fernandez had offered to meet with the mayor before budget sessions began, but that those meetings — which could have clarified some issues beforehand — never happened.

“If you had made us aware . . . which kinds of documents you were looking for, we could’ve gone into the budget session with that knowledge and providing that kind of information, but we had zero communication,” other than a meeting with each member to discuss their district, King said.

Rawlins-Fernandez asked Baz if the “Exhibit 1” document was required by law. Baz said it wasn’t. She then asked him if it had been submitted last year. Baz said he believed so.

“No, it wasn’t,” Rawlins-Fernandez said.

She later apologized to Baz “for misspeaking, that the Exhibit 1 was included in the committee report, it just wasn’t used during the process.” Council members from the previous term interjected that it was.

In response to concerns that the administration might not have all the information it needs to carry out the budget, Rawlins-Fernandez said that she was working with the finance director on the accounting side and that “all the information that they’re looking for is in the budget bills.” She also said that she had met with the mayor and budget director to discuss concerns about the unclear wording on some items.

“I assured the administration that it is not our intention to leave them in the lurch whatsoever, and that this council wishes to work collaboratively and cooperatively to successfully achieve the goals put forth within this adopted budget,” she said.

Following budget discussion, the council also unanimously passed on first reading a bill that would ban commercial activity at Hanakao’o Beach Park.

read … Exhibit One: Clueless

New Ruling In Maui Water Case Still Doesn’t Resolve Old Dispute

CB: … A complicated disagreement over water rights in East Maui that has stretched over the last two decades will take even longer to resolve.

It has pitted some Native Hawaiians and environmental groups against a major Hawaii company, and prompted the Hawaii Legislature to intervene directly in 2016.

Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals on Tuesday sent back to the state’s 1st Circuit Court the case of Carmichael vs. BLNR and Alexander & Baldwin.

The case focuses on four month-to-month water rights permits the state Department of Land and Natural Resources granted to A&B in July 2000. BLNR has repeatedly renewed the permits over the past two decades, and the plaintiffs alleged that in doing so BLNR had violated the law concerning temporary permits. The plaintiffs also said state law required an environmental review of the water diversion system….

read … New Ruling In Maui Water Case Still Doesn’t Resolve Old Dispute

Lawsuit puts blame on the state for high inmate suicide rate

HNN: … A class action lawsuit alleges that the state isn’t doing enough to prevent prison suicides because of a lack of mental health services for inmates.

The suit alleges that Hawaii prisons and jails have the seventh highest suicide rate in the country. It says at least 26 inmates have committed suicide while incarcerated in Hawaii since 2010, and much of that was due to inadequate mental health services….

But the Department of Public Safety said inmate suicides are actually down. In 2016, they said there were six suicides, four in 2017 and just one last year.

This year, they said there have been no suicides so far….

read … Lawsuit puts blame on the state for high inmate suicide rate

Panic After False Shooter Report at Honolulu Airport

SA: … The main terminal at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport was shut down today after a malfunctioning laptop at a security checkpoint led to false reports of an active shooter, an evacuation of thousands of passengers, and the delay and cancellation of flights.

Terminal 2 reopened shortly before 6 p.m. nearly four hours after the incident set off chaos, panic and confusion at Hawaii’s largest airport.

The Transportation Security Administration said a laptop in a traveler’s carry-on luggage overheated at a security checkpoint at about 2:10 p.m.

“This created confusion and some travelers ran into the sterile area of the airport without being screened. Out of an abundance of caution, TSA leadership made the decision to evacuate Terminal 2 and re-screen all passengers,” the TSA said in a statement.

The laptop reportedly popped and started to smoke, apparently from a lithium battery, Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said.

“Someone may have shouted shooter,” he said.

Mike Corney, a business consultant on his way back to Atlanta, said he heard the popping from what looked like another traveler’s bag several feet ahead of him in a TSA screening line.

“There was a little bit of smoke that came out of their bag, and then a little pop,” he said. “Someone asked, ‘Is that a shot?’ That’s all it took. It was chaos for about five minutes.”

Corney said the popping didn’t resemble gunfire.

“It was just like popcorn,” he said. “It wasn’t loud. It was just enough to start rumors.”

Soon after the false reports began spreading on social media, DOT officials tweeted out that there was no shooter at the airport ….

read … False reports of shooter at Honolulu airport lead to chaos, evacuation and delayed flights

Hawaii DoE: We Really Are Zeroes

AP: … "Absent reliable and accurate data, neither Education nor the public can know the prevalence of restraint and seclusion in public schools," it said.

Among school systems reporting zero incidents in 2015-16 were 10 of the nation's largest, each with 100,000 or more students. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia has since said it did have incidents that year, and reported more than 1,600 in the 2017-18 school year. Only the Hawaii Department of Education said the zeros actually represented zero incidents.

"While it is difficult to know the full extent of underreporting of restraint and seclusion in the CRDC, the fact that only one of the 10 largest districts that reported zeros actually affirmed that it had no incidents calls into question the data showing zero incidents for 70 percent of the nation's public school districts," the GAO report said….

GAO: Education Should Take Immediate Action to Address Inaccuracies in Federal Restraint and Seclusion Data

read … Seclusion

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