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No, it’s not time to move on after Kealoha verdict
Cataluna: … The chief of police was glad-handing at community events, walking tall through the hallways and putting on his badge, gun and winning smile every morning and getting his handpicked hit team to clean up after his wife and fight her family battles.
The stench of corruption hangs over the Honolulu city prosecutor’s office as well. Katherine Kealoha, as deputy prosecutor, was bringing cases to trial for crimes smaller than what she herself was committing. People around her had to have known.
Yes, shame on the Kealohas, but shame on a local government where this can happen and the most common reaction isn’t shock and disbelief, but a frustrated resignation because we know there are plenty of things in town that aren’t clean and working right.
We have a new police chief and her leadership team and some new people on the Honolulu Police Commission, but they’re going to have to work long and hard to scrub the stink off the department. This went on too long, too many people had to have known and nobody stood up and said anything. They had to have joked about it in the police station elevator and at pau hana gatherings. No doubt there are many, many good people and true hearts wearing the badge and serving the community, but there was a bad apple at the top.
In the aftermath of the verdict, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued a terse statement saying, “The jury has reached a verdict and I respect the process and their decision. It’s time to move on.”
No, it’s not.
This was not an aberration. This was an infection.
What must happen now, what is critical — more critical than just about any other threat facing our community — is a fierce and fearless examination of all parts of the city agencies that allowed two high-powered, incredibly corrupt and not very sophisticated people to misuse public resources so egregiously for so long. Also crucial is the question of why it didn’t bother anyone on the inside enough to find the guts to say something when they saw something.
Police Commission Chairwoman Loretta Sheehan said what Caldwell should have:
“This is not something we should try to move away from quickly. We should be talking about it, examining it and figuring out ways to make sure that this never happens again.”
Though the Kealohas are gone, much of the framework that kept their deeds quiet remains….
SA: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell defends his ‘move on’ comments following Kealoha verdicts "I’m not one to look back … and I don’t like to dwell on things. I think if there’s problems, they’re addressed, fixed and there are always more problems, so we tackle those and move forward.”
CB: It’s Definitely Not Time To Move On From The Kealohas’ Corruption Case
read … No, it’s not time to move on after Kealoha verdict
Jury: Kealohas Guilty – Caldwell: Time for Feds to Move On Before I Get Caught
SA: … It took jurors one day of deliberations to find Katherine and Louis Kealoha — and two of their three fellow defendants — guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice today in one of the largest public corruption cases in Hawaii’s history.
Katherine Kealoha, the former deputy prosecutor, her husband, former Honolulu police Chief Louis Kealoha, HPD officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn remained free on bond.
Only retired HPD Maj. Gordon Shiraishi was acquitted of all charges and was immediately released from bond….
Jurors, who declined to comment to reporters, appeared to believe that Shiraishi was merely confused when he falsely testified to a grand jury and to the Honolulu Ethics Commission about when he was notified by Chief Kealoha about the theft of the mailbox….
Prosecutors asked that Katherine Kealoha be taken into custody immediately but U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright said that can be discussed at a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.
But Seabright told the newly convicted defendants and their attorneys that they remained on bond and “the presumption of innocence no longer applies.”
Katherine Kealoha’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7, followed by Louis Kealoha on Oct. 15, Hahn on Oct. 21 and Nguyen on Oct. 28.
The obstruction conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and the penalty for conspiracy is up to five years….
Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued a statement, saying, “The jury has reached a verdict and I respect the process and their decision. It’s time to move on.”…
(Translation: Feds can go home now. Don’t dig any further because you might catch …uh…me.)
Loretta Sheehan: “In regard to HPD, my sense is that they want to put this behind them, that they are tired of the shadow of Kealoha that has hung over their department. I can understand them wanting to move past this. But respectfully, I disagree. We should be talking about what happened with Chief Kealoha, and what happened in the CIU, and what happened with this small band of individuals for a long, long time. This is not something we should try to move away from quickly. We should be talking about it, examining it, and figuring out ways to make sure that this never happens again.”
(Translation: Caldwell is wrong.)
Ikaika Anderson: “Mr. Kealoha should now promptly return his $250K cash severance settlement to City taxpayers.”
(Good luck with that.)
CB: Federal prosecutors also haven’t completed their investigation into public corruption and abuse of power within Hawaii law enforcement.
HNN: The verdict came in about 4:40 p.m. Thursday — a lightning fast verdict in a case federal authorities took years to build.
KITV: Police Chief Ballard issues statement after guilty verdict
read … Guilty
Judge: Jail Katherine Kealoha to Prevent Further Tampering
SA: … “I don’t think Ms. Kealoha will flee, not for long anyway,” Seabright said. “I’m not concerned about flight risk. … But I am concerned about obstructive behavior.”
“I have no doubt about Ms. Kealoha’s attempt to obstruct justice,” Seabright said. “She made a determined and consistent effort to have an innocent man incarcerated.”
After she was indicted, prosecutors said today that Kealoha reached out to a friend to insist that the fictional notary public she created called Alison Lee Wong actually existed.
The friend then contacted the FBI because she worried “she was being tampered with,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat told Seabright.
As he argued for sending her to jail while she awaits sentencing, Wheat called Katherine Kealoha a “walking crime spree.”
In a court filing, Wheat and his prosecution team wrote that “Kealoha used her extensive power as a lawyer and deputy prosecutor to frame her uncle with a crime he did not commit. True to her word, she attacked Gerard Puana with the ‘highest form’ of legal retribution imaginable: false arrest and false imprisonment. She did so through an endless web of lies and deceit. As the evidence at trial proved, Kealoha lies as easily as she draws breath. Those lies range from the simple to the highly complex. And those lies prove Kealoha will do anything and everything to avoid the consequences for her unlawful behavior. Frame her uncle. Falsely claim her grandmother was incompetent. Attack the Ethics Commission.”
Before ruling, Seabright said, “there is a serious risk she will attempt to obstruct justice.” …
PDF: Kealoha Detention Motion
read … Tampering
Kym Pine: ‘Strongly Considering’ Running For Mayor
CB: … Pine lists affordable housing, the high cost of living and “an exploding unsheltered homeless population” as urgent issues.
The next mayor must be able to address that as well as “have the character and commitment to follow through with promises, and a proven record of putting people first.” …
(Not one word about what she will do about corruption.)
read … Kym Pine: ‘Strongly Considering’ Running For Mayor
Hawaii County Salary Commission: Lets Give Large Bags of Money to Top Execs
HTH: … Just don’t call them bonuses. Call them lump sum payments, suggested Finance Director Deanna Sako. Or, suggested Commissioner Judy Greenbaum, call them salary inversion catch-up payments. Or, as Commissioner Florence Ikeda called them, incentives.
(Translation: They are formulating a sales pitch.)
Whatever they’re called, the goal would be to give department directors and deputies a little extra so they would be making more than their highest-paid subordinate. That amount would be in addition to an average 2.25% salary increase being contemplated by the commission.
The officials, including the mayor, County Council, prosecuting attorney, department heads and deputies, last received raises in 2017, when they saw increases of $16,700 to $42,900, or 13.2% to 39.7%.
On the table for the top officials are raises of about $5,600 for each position, a 3.4% to 7.5% increase. The mayor, for example, would see his pay rise to $168,223 annually; the County Council chairman would be paid $82,657 and a council member would get $75,649.
The commission took no action at its meeting Thursday, instead asking for better data on what comparable private-sector jobs pay on the Big Island. Information provided by county staff to date included statewide averages from the Hawaii Employers Council, showing what Commissioner James Higgins called, “big city” salaries.
The commission had asked Mayor Harry Kim to come to the meeting to tell them whether the county could afford raises. Kim didn’t answer that question directly
read … Salary Commission weighs pay hikes, other incentives to keep top officials
Firefighters Win Final Council Approval of Contract
KGI: … There is a new collective bargaining agreement for Kauai firefighters through 2021 as the Kauai County Council passed a bill that will usher in a new area for first responders with a 5-2 vote Wednesday during the council meeting at the Historic County Building.
Bill No. 2748 will grant a 2%, across-the-board raise increase for all Bargaining Unit 11 employees, which will come with a one-time, lump-sum payment for salary ranges SR-17 on July 1, 2019, ranging from $1,800 to $2,000, and a one-time, lump-sum payment for all Unit 12 employees in SR-17 salary ranges on July 1, 2020.
Firefighters with 28 years accrued service that are step L-5 will be granted a one-time, additional-lump-sum payment of $500, on July 1, 2020. The bill additionally creates a step L-6 for firefighters with over 28 years starting on June 30, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.
The total salary increase for the firefighters will be 3.2% over the next three years.
“When I first came in (on the council in 2012) the budget for fire was $22.6 million,” Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa said of the bill he voted no on, stating he was in favor of a 2% increase only. “Today it is $33.8 million.”
Kagawa added that the budget for the Kauai Fire Department since 2008 has gone up 145%, comparing that to the Kauai Police Department that is at a 104% increase, and solid waste which has had an 88% increase in that time ….
Meanwhile: Putting a spike into pension spiking
read … Following California Model
UPW Member Still Employed as Jail guard while on Trial for Meth
HTH: … A state adult corrections officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto ordered 58-year-old Ricky R. Espejo of Pahala to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 23….
According to police, Espejo, who is assigned to Hale Nani Correctional Facility, a minimum-security facility on the southern outskirts of Hilo, was pulled over by a Hilo patrol officer just after midnight May 2 because the pickup truck he was driving had a defective brake light.
Police say the officer also discovered the weight tax and safety check stickers on the truck were expired.
According to police, the officer saw drug paraphernalia in plain view, arrested Espejo and a 29-year-old woman passenger — identified in a police log as Krystal Kahalioumi of Hilo — and impounded the truck as evidence.
A search warrant was executed on the vehicle, and officers found paraphernalia items with methamphetamine residue, police said.
Kahalioumi was released from custody pending further investigation.
To date, she hasn’t been charged in this case but faces third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and a felony resisting an order to stop charge in a case filed in January 2018 that is still active….
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said in an email earlier this month that Espejo, who has been with the department 23 years, “remains employed while the department investigates all allegations.”
read … Jail guard pleads not guilty to drug charges
Cesspool Fix $21K—Enviros Scheme to Push it up to $31K
MN: … Average Upcountry homeowners looking to replace their cesspools could fork out around $21,000 for the least expensive conversion system, or even around $31,000 for a system to eliminate most of the nitrates that can impact drinking water, according to a recent draft report that examines cesspool upgrade alternatives for Upcountry residents.
A state law passed in 2017 requires residents to replace cesspools with a septic tank or to hook up to a sewer system by 2050. Upcountry, which could have up to 8,900 cesspools, has been identified along with Kahaluu on Oahu as the top of 14 priority areas in the state for cesspool upgrades, according to a state Department of Health report.
A Health Department water quality investigation of Upcountry found two wells with elevated nitrate levels — at Baldwin Ranch Estates, with up to 8.9 milligrams per liter, and the Pukalani Golf Course, with levels up to 6.8 milligrams per liter. Nitrates are found in fertilizer and sewage.
The legal limit for nitrate levels is 10 milligrams per liter, but the normal concentration of nitrates in Hawaii aquifers is less than 3 milligrams per liter. Health officials said the wells with above-normal levels of nitrates were in areas with a lot of cesspools. Officials have emphasized that the water is safe to drink, though it can be fatal for infants if levels exceed 12 milligrams per liter.…
read … Cesspool fix could be costly
Ala Wai: Another Corps of Engineers Disaster?
CB: … the wildfires that have raged through the Everglades, most prominently in 2008, in 2011, and now, are a direct result of the man-made “water-management” system that paved the way (literally) for industrial agriculture and the eventual development of a sprawling megalopolis in southern Florida…..
we did, essentially, the same thing on Oahu. In 1928, the same year that a hurricane sent storm surges bursting through a flimsy muck dike on Lake Okeechobee, killing 2,500 pioneers in the Everglades, engineers in Honolulu built the Ala Wai canal, sacrificing the marshes of Waikiki for the profits of a new tourism engine that has come to dominate practically every aspect of life in Hawaii….
History does repeat itself. Our elected officials in Hawaii seem determined to double down on further interference, believing — as they did in southern Florida — that we can simply build our way out of a problem that was only created by building in the first place.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Gov. David Ige are in talks with none other than the Army Corps to build a concrete wall around the Ala Wai Canal, an embankment around the Ala Wai golf course, and seven large detention basins near residential areas in Makiki, Manoa and Palolo valleys, upstream of tens of thousands of homes, schools and businesses….
Related: Ala Wai? Corps of Engineers has Long History of Corruption and Cost Overruns
read … Disaster
Scheme to Establish Giant Festering Homeless Tent City in Hawaii Kai
CB: … You hardly see any homeless people in Hawaii Kai, and when you do, they are solitary individuals walking down the highway, sneaking a quick nap on the pedestrian overpass near Koko Head Elementary School, or briefly sitting at an outdoor table next to Starbucks. No tents, no battered bikes, no one blocking the sidewalk.
(This is a problem for homeless industry organizers. Not enough bums to exploit.)
Out of sight, but definitely not out of mind.
(But they are still thinking about it.)
Hawaii Kai has an active unofficial homeless surveillance system. One of our state legislators has tried to count them. The security guards at the shopping center keep their eyes open for sleepers in the underground parking lot or for disheveled folks who don’t seem to have a purpose.
But the strongest part of this system is the part that is the least official — ordinary citizens like me. Somebody at the Starbucks says, “He looks homeless,” and it’s a signal to be watchful, wary, and to keep your distance.
(Translation: The folks in Hawaii Kai are smart and on their game.)
So, people out here only experience the homeless away from their Hawaii Kai homes. They see them in the mini-tent villages in Moiliili, the parks in Kakaako, or the storefronts downtown….
(Translation: We organize these tent cities to screw with your head.)
There is a grassy area along the curb running along one side of the park next to Hawaii Kai’s Koko Head Elementary School. A public bathroom and water fountain are a few steps away. Not all that different from the place where the homeless pitch their tents at Stadium Park along King Street.
(This is targeting information for organizers. Look for them to install 5-10 empty tents soon. Their goal: Have the homeless move into the tents to establish a tent city. The solution: Tear down the tents as soon as they are put up—before the homeless start moving in.)
As Explained: Occupy, Union Activists Organizing Homeless Tent Cities in Honolulu?
read … Homelessness Industry at Work Against You
Habitat for Humanity Takes on Cost of Home
MT: … The Cost of Home campaign seeks to identify and improve policies and systems through coordinated advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels, marking significant growth in Habitat’s commitment to ensuring that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.
Cost of Home focuses on improving housing affordability in four specific policy areas: increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes, and ensuring access to and development of communities of opportunity.
Habitat for Humanity Maui already has taken several steps toward these goals. HHM sells affordable homes to low income families at a no interest and no profit basis; they serve families that are between 25 and 80 percent of the median income for Maui County, and ensure that families are not paying more than 30 percent of their household income towards housing cost.
Families are required to attend Homeowner Education Classes, budget counseling, and credit counseling. Habitat’s HUD certified pre-purchase workshop and financial education classes are designed to equip families with the essential knowledge that will empower them to be successful homeowner. “We believe that education lays the foundation for becoming an empowered and informed homeowner,” said a Habitat spokesperson….
read … Habitat for Humanity Takes on Cost of Home
50 Turn out for Anti-Telescope Protest
SA: … With more than 50 people holding signs and flags of protest, speakers complained of heavy-handed state tactics in removing Native Hawaiian structures from the mountain, including two ahu, or altars, which were built on the TMT site in 2015….
read … 50 people for $50M
Ige signs ‘red flag’ gun bill
SA: … Gov. David Ige has approved a new law that enables family members, co-workers or police to obtain court orders blocking access to firearms for people who show signs they could pose a danger to themselves or others.
When Ige signed Senate Bill 1466 into law as Act 150 on Wednesday, Hawaii joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia that have enacted so-called extreme risk laws, also known as “red flag” laws.
The organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which lobbied Hawaii lawmakers this year to pass the legislation, described red flag laws as part of a national “sea change on gun safety.”….
read … Ige signs ‘red flag’ gun bill