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Thursday, June 20, 2019
June 20, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:11 PM :: 1899 Views

OHA Majority Targets Trustee Akina

Telescope: State Issues Notice to Proceed, Rips Down Protesters Shacks

First Congressional Hearing on Citizenship Choice for Individual American Samoans

Auditor: No More Silly Talk About Profits at the Convention Center

Judiciary Program Tackles Absenteeism at Keaau Middle School

Solar Schemer: As a Political Insider, Former police chief received discounted solar deal not Available to the Little People

SA: … Louis Kealoha was given a $20,000 discount for the installation of 26 solar panels at his Kahala home in 2013 as a favor to a police officer who worked part time for the solar contractor and because Kealoha was the police chief, according to the contractor.

Scott Clough, who owned the solar company, told jurors Wednesday in the ongoing public corruption and conspiracy trial of Kealoha and four other defendants that Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn, who worked evenings and weekends for his company in 2013, asked him to do the Kealoha job “at cost.”

Clough said he agreed to do so because of the chief’s position and the possibility the job could lead to more business….

Clough said Kealoha paid about $25,000 for a job that normally would cost roughly $45,000, a savings of $20,000….

(Translation: Solar schemers boost their prices because of the tax credits and rip off the little guy for 44.4% profit.  Political insiders get a deep discount price.  We do this all the time.)

Asked whether Hahn refrained from requesting favors for other customers because he made a significant amount of money from his commissions, Clough replied: “You could say that.”

In 2013, Hahn earned $202,000 from his solar job, bringing in more than $1 million in sales, according to Clough. 

(Translation: About 20% of your price is a sales commission.)

That was the same year Hahn was appointed as lieutenant in the secretive Criminal Intelligence Unit at the chief’s suggestion, according to the federal indictment in the case….

read … Former police chief received discounted solar deal

A&B may get water permit in the end

MN: … Alexander & Baldwin’s controversial effort to continue to divert water from state land in East Maui, which died in the state Legislature in May, gained new life following an appellate court decision Tuesday.

The state Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated a 2016 1st Circuit Court judgment in favor of East Maui taro farmers and native practitioners and sent the case back to the lower court.

In the case Carmichael vs. BLNR and Alexander & Baldwin, the plaintiffs challenged month-to-month water permits granted by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to A&B in 2000 that were annually renewed….

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which represents the East Maui taro farmers and Native Hawaiian practitioners, said Wednesday that it plans to appeal Tuesday’s ruling….

read … A&B may get water permit in the end

Maximizing Hawaii for Tourism: Most Enviro Court Cases Filed by One Lawyer on Maui

MN: … With more than half of state Environmental Court civil cases filed on Maui, the fourth anniversary of the court was celebrated in words and song Wednesday at the Wailuku courthouse….

“It gives us the opportunity to protect this beautiful island paradise we live in,” Cardoza said….

With environmental courts operating in circuit and district courts statewide since 2015, “we’re seeing an improvement in enforcement of environmental laws and compliance across the board,” Townsend said….

“It really is doing a lot to protect the quality of life (the experience) for Hawaii’s residents (tourists),”she said….

From the court’s beginnings on July 1, 2015, to the end of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2018, there were 32 civil Environmental Court cases filed statewide, including 19 on Maui, said Wailuku attorney Lance Collins.

As of March this year, the Maui total was 22, said Collins, who represented plaintiffs in all but three of the cases.

On the day of the official Environmental Court rollout, after the filings division opened, “seconds later, Lance Collins files the first Circuit Court Environmental Court case,” Cardoza said.

“He’s been a tireless worker in assisting many, many individuals in this community as well as throughout the state,” Cardoza said.

That first case, Stop Cane Burning v. Director of the Department of Health, was settled in May 2016. …

(See? Told you.)

The judge noted that “the court is still in its infancy.”

read … Environmental Court celebrates four years

Double taxing REITs sends wrong message about Hawaii

SA: … If Senate Bill 301 becomes law and Hawaii effectively doubles down on its taxation of REITs, we are telling REITs to invest in other, more business-friendly states. Every state, except one, honors the structure Congress established for REITs so that ordinary citizens could invest in real estate.

The repercussions of SB 301’s double taxation of REITS and how this would negatively impact future investment here and further damage our state’s business reputation has not been thought through.

If the state singles out REITs with this new form of double taxation, one can reasonably wonder why a similar tax would not be imposed on Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) and Sub Chapter S Corporations. Like REITs, these corporate entities invest in Hawaii and pass on revenue and income tax responsibilities to shareholders.

Numerous Hawaii REITs have stated they will be reluctant to follow through on large-scale projects already on the drawing board. Our communities will be impacted if REIT investment is lost. There will be fewer jobs in construction, design and architecture, at hotels and in retail. There will be less investment in facilities residents use.

Ala Moana Center’s redevelopment, construction of the Moanalua Hillside affordable rental project, Hale Mahana UH student housing, and Hale Pawaa medical building are a few examples of REIT projects enriching Hawaii’s quality of life….

read … Column: Double taxing REITs sends wrong message about Hawaii

As Country after Country Rejects Shipments of Foreign Garbage, Hawaii County Council Amends Styrofoam Ban 

HTH: … the County Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill loosening restrictions on the allowable plastic alternatives to polystyrene.

Most polystyrene, popularly known as “Styrofoam,” food containers will remain banned under a law going into effect July 1.

The current measure, Bill 74, which faces one more reading, will allow the substitution of plastics the county doesn’t recycle. That includes the No. 5 plastic “clamshell” containers….

The polystyrene bill changes are supported by the Hawaii Food Industry Association, Hawaii Restaurant Association and local retailers, who say they favor reducing polystyrene but they’re having difficulty finding suitable recyclable alternatives now that Hawaii County isn’t recycling many plastics because the China market dried up.

read … Council approves bill allowing plastic alternatives to Styrofoam food containers

‘Simply Madness’: City Owes $100K For Missing Deadlines In Garbage Disputes with UPW

CB: … Honolulu taxpayers owe more than $100,000 in fees and interest after city officials repeatedly ignored court and arbitration orders in disputes with a major public employees union.

United Public Workers is in the midst of several grievances with the city relating to pay for garbage collectors and other union members. For the past year, city officials missed court-ordered and arbitrator-imposed deadlines to cut checks and provide documents, and ignored subpoenas from UPW to attend hearings, records show.

That sent cases back to arbitration and court multiple times, racking up additional fees and interest to be paid by the city. …

The city filed a memo Monday in response to the Labor Relations Board complaint. The city contends that the board lacks jurisdiction because the union grievances are still pending….

In all three cases, court records show UPW struggled to access documents or receive money from the city despite orders from arbitrators and judges, leading to successively higher costs.

In April, a state judge approved UPW’s request for more than $9,400 in attorney’s fees and costs associated with its efforts to force the city to comply with a court order in the 2013 bulky item pickup case.

In the 2009 street sweeper case, a state judge awarded UPW more than $50,000 in attorney’s fees and costs this year after the union won a motion to enforce a 2018 court order.

Last summer, the city was charged more than $30,000 in attorney’s fees for the 2015 case after the union spent extra time trying to enforce an arbitration order. At the time, Cestare, the arbitrator, wrote that he purposely delayed his decision to give the city time to oppose the attorney’s fees, but the city never filed anything challenging the fees….

Missing Information:

read … ‘Simply Madness’: City Owes $100K For Missing Deadlines In Disputes

Where the Polynesians Are: Kauai Ranks 15th behind California, Nevada, Washington, Utah, and Arizona

CB: … There were nearly 1.6 million Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders living in American  states in 2018, up nearly 19% since 2010, according to U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.

The biggest numbers lived in Honolulu and Hawaii counties, but there were more living in Los Angeles County than Maui and Kauai counties combined.

Clark County, Nevada — home to Las Vegas — was home to the fifth-largest community of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in the U.S. The data excludes U.S. territories like Guam and American Samoa….

read … Bye Bye Kauai

Lunatic Asylum Finally Decides to Replace Broken, 25-yr old Security System

SA: … The Hawaii State Hospital is replacing 25-year-old surveillance systems, some of which aren’t operational, with new digital equipment to bring the facility up to date and improve safety for patients and staff.

The state Health Department, which oversees the Kaneohe psychiatric hospital with more than 200 patients, would not disclose how many cameras are not working, but said it can no longer get many of the parts needed to repair those that are broken.

The department said plans are in place to install more than 300 new cameras and other digital equipment in August at a cost of about $560,000, replacing an outdated analog system. A source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified said hospital employees have complained for years about the faulty security system — including perimeter and internal surveillance — which is jeopardizing the safety of patients, staff and the public….

State Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the hospital would not disclose information about the inoperable parts of the surveillance system because “patients read that stuff in the paper” and may try to figure out ways to get around areas that are compromised.

“It’s a security risk. Their patients have nothing else to do during the day except (have sex with my employees and) plot how they’re going to leave. With what little information they can get, they’re going to use it to try to figure out a way to leverage that,” Okubo said. “It frustrates their ability to secure the patients if we advertise where potential deficiencies may be in the system. Then we’re actually telling patients where they can take advantage of the staff.”…

the Kaneohe hospital is also searching for a new director following the May departure of administrator William May…. 

SA Editorial: Better security at Hawaii State Hospital

read … Hawaii State Hospital to go digital

Pension Spiking Kauai firefighters nearing raises

HNN: … A council committee voted Wednesday to advance a new two-year contract for firefighters, which factors in raises.

Kauai’s approval is key because an agreement secured by the Hawaii Firefighters Association applies to firefighters statewide. But it must be approved by all four counties first.

The other three counties have already signed off on the contract which includes a two percent raise every year for the next two years, bonuses, and an increase in regular pay based on years of service.

Despite being willing to support firefighters, some Kauai lawmakers are afraid the county can’t afford it.

“For the most part we want to see salaries increase with the cost of living, but you know, where does it go, where does it end? How high should it be?” Chair Arryl Kaneshiro said. “For me, it’s just looking at the overall cost of an employee at the county.” …

The full council is set to vote on the plan next week….

Meanwhile: Putting a spike into pension spiking

read … Kauai firefighters nearing raises as council committee advances new contracts

Hawaii Employees Contribute the Least to Health Insurance Costs

CB:… According to a study issued this month by Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health care policy think tank, Hawaii residents participating in employer-sponsored health coverage plans pay the nation’s lowest costs  ($675). That includes the amounts spent on employee contributions and co-payments. The amounts spent as a percentage of income are also among the nation’s lowest….

(Interestingly, Massachusetts, which has a law similar to Prepaid, has the highest employee contribution cost at $1747.)

read … Hawaii Has The Lowest Health Care Costs

Smug Snobs Hassle Tourists in Hanalei

SA: .. Tourists who arrived at the gateway to Lumahai, Wainiha and Ha‘ena were allowed to venture into North Shore attractions. But not before being greeted by community volunteers telling them to respect local road rules, use non-reef harming sunscreen and avoid walking on the fragile coral. As part of a new grassroots initiative, they also received copies of the Aloha Pledge — a tourism management effort to get visitors to promise they will obey rules, follow laws, and respect local residents and the environment.

The Aloha Pledge is seen as an opportunity for residents and visitors to assume joint responsibility for Kauai’s well-being — an issue of growing importance given that tourists vastly outnumber locals, said Megan Wong, a member of the Old Hanalei Courthouse hui.

On Tuesday, protesters went as far as crawling onto the hoods of tourists’ cars to prevent them from reaching Ha’ena. “It’s not about blocking the road anymore. We want to use this time to stop and educate people,” Wong said….

Mahina Laughlin, a Wainiha resident, said Tuesday’s protest drew attention to the challenges of overtourism.

Laughlin, who owns Aloha Pearls in Hanalei, said she’s well aware that the community needs tourism to survive, but wants to see visitors counts that aren’t at odds with the island’s limited capacity to handle the numbers (who will buy pearls, not all these riff-raff.)

read … Kauai’s tourism concerns are being addressed

NIMBYS Turn out to Protest Affordable Housing Project

MN: … Residents opposed to a pair of workforce-and-market-rate housing projects in Launiupoko sent a clear message on Wednesday — we need housing, but not here.

About 50 people came to testify before the Maui County Council’s Affordable Housing Committee, most in opposition due to the (insert excuses here) ….

The projects — which would combine for 96 workforce and 61 market-rate homes — are being proposed by two different entities associated with developer Peter Martin.

Kipa Centennial, of which Martin is managing partner, is proposing the Polanui Gardens project, which would provide 50 affordable single-family lots with a minimum 10,000-square-foot lot size for residents earning from 80 percent ($67,040) to 140 percent ($117,320) of the area median income. The 48.9-acre development in Launiupoko also calls for a 4.5-acre community park, a 1-acre community garden and 16 market-priced agricultural lots with a minimum 1-acre lot size. A 9.6-acre agricultural use easement would provide a farming area and buffer along the Lahaina bypass….

read … Maui Like Kauai

Homeless Rockthrower Attacks Homelessness Meeting

HTH:  … A grassroots effort to put a spotlight on crime and chronic homelessness in Kailua Village is continuing to pick up steam, with a meeting Monday drawing a crowd of an estimated 130-150 people to the Paina Room at Umekes Fish Market Bar and Grill.

It was the second such gathering organized to give residents and business owners a chance to share their experiences and bring in those working to address the issue.

The meeting kicked off with updates about local initiatives aimed at assisting people experiencing homelessness, such as Kukuiola, the project formerly called Village 9. But much of the focus turned to proposals for what the community needs: more responsiveness from police, more laws to deter things such as loitering and public intoxication and more resources to support those with mental health needs or substance use disorders.

One business owner said it’s taken 45 minutes for police to respond to a call, by which time everyone involved has left the scene, and that business owners are afraid to speak out for fear of backlash, adding some people have even been threatened with arrest themselves for harassing law enforcement.

In addition to alcohol and drug use the business owner has witnessed on the seawall along Alii Drive, there are also dire public health issues that go unaddressed….

The county also doesn’t have specific crimes called public intoxication or loitering, a point that, when raised by First Deputy Prosecutor Dale Ross, sparked disbelief from the crowd….

“It’s not so much the homeless but it is the homeless that are actively using and the crystal methamphetamine problem that we have in our community that is making these people do all these inappropriate things and behave the way that they are,” said Julie Agno, Big Island county services director at Mental Health Kokua, saying the lack of treatment options here is a huge issue for the state.

Currently, she said, there’s a six-month wait list for in-patient treatment for the whole state, and she urged those at the meeting to press lawmakers to address the issues of substance misuse….

About an hour before the 6 p.m. Monday meeting began, a person threw a rock through plate-glass windows at the Umekes currently under construction on Pawai Place, according to Stefanie Gubser, operations manager at Manini Holdings, which oversees the 6-acre area.

The individual was served a trespass notice shortly before the incident. Witnesses tried to detain him before police arrived, but he fled on foot….

SA: The anatomy of homelessness on Oahu

read … Umekes packed with more than 100 people for meeting in Kona about crime, chronic homelessness

Maunakea Liquor Store Gets License Renewed

SA: … On June 6 Maunakea Liquor &Grocery faced the Liquor Commission for a Feb. 8 violation in which the licensee sold, served or furnished liquor to a minor and/or allowed consumption by a minor on the premises.

The store’s representative asked for the matter to be continued, saying reports about the incident had not been received by the store. A delay was granted to a date to be determined in late July.

Meanwhile, all liquor licenses in Honolulu are renewed annually at the beginning of the fiscal year July 1.

“It was the position of the Honolulu Liquor Commission to release the license renewal because we had no standing to withhold it without cause,” Lee said in an email. “There was not any statutory authority to deny renewal and the agency does not want to jeopardize the licensee’s due process.”

There was no vote on the matter, Lee added.

But Shubert-Quock, a former Honolulu Liquor Commission member for eight years, said the agency is dodging its responsibility and “protecting its okole.”

She said Hawaii’s revised statutes give the commission the latitude to suspend a license, with or without cause, for the safety of the public.

“It’s a privilege to sell liquor, not a right,” she said. “The commission seems to have forgotten its mission. This is not protecting our community. Why is the commission’s due process not considered in protecting the public’s best interest? It appears the store’s interests are more important than community safety.”

Shubert-Quock said she knows by experience that legal maneuvers can delay a liquor license adjudication for months, even years, while the selling of alcohol continues.

“This is not a fair situation for the community to bear,” she said.

In May Shubert-Quock presented to the liquor commission a petition signed by 80 Chinatown shop owners describing the liquor store as having a “profound” negative impact on the neighborhood, as being a hub for violence and a gathering place for drug dealers and criminals.

James Logue, another member of the Downtown- Chinatown Neighborhood Board, expressed frustration that community pleas are being ignored.

“The renewal of this store’s liquor license was a complete smack in the face to our community and those who are fighting to take back our streets and clean up our public spaces,” Logue said in an email.….

read … Hellhole with Booze

Honolulu Council Helps Homeless Stay Homeless

KITV: … The Honolulu City Council's Budget Committee advanced a resolution allowing a group to expand its efforts to help the homeless (stay nice n comfy on the streets).

Punawai Rest Stop in Iwilei opened six months ago. Since then, the city says Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui (H4 Hawaii) has provided nearly 25,000 individual services to those in need, thus reducing the pressure to accept housing.

The group was founded by two local doctors -- including Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. Now, it wants to lease another section of the building from the city to provide housing and non-emergency healthcare services for those in need. …

read … Group expands efforts to help the homeless

Court ruling annuls PPA, creating potential setback for Hu Honua Wood-Burner

PBN: … The court wants the PUC to reassess the PPA application between HELCO and Hu Honua, this time taking greenhouse gas emissions into account. ….

EE: Fracking Continues to Drive Down CO2 Emissions

read … Court ruling annuls PPA, creating potential setback for bioenergy plant

A number of Honolulu public parking spots could be reduced, rented out to rideshare companies

KITV: … It's part of a bill proposed by Honolulu City Council members Brandon Elefante and Joey Manahan.

The bill would allow rideshare companies like "Hui" and "Enterprise" to rent up to 160 metered parking stalls.

The City would give those companies a lower rate only charging them 25% of the annual revenue from the meter. …

(NOTE: The Council will give public land away to rideshare companies, but it will not make public land available to build affordable housing.)

read … A number of Honolulu public parking spots could be reduced, rented out to rideshare companies

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