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Saturday, June 29, 2019
June 29, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:52 PM :: 3415 Views

Better Education for Military-Connected Children

HB748: Hawaii needs civil asset forfeiture reform

Housing and the Hendersons

​‘Positive disruptor’ shares policy views on 'Perry & the Posse'

Will Hawaii be the Next Puerto Rico?

Ige Appoints New Budget and Finance Director

Activist Attacks Destroy Another 17% of Hawaii Seed Industry Acreage

Caldwell Afraid Feds Will Nail Him for Obstruction

ILind: … The mayor says it’s time to “move on.”

I say, not so fast!

Earlier in the mailbox theft conspiracy, frame job, and coverup, the system was actually working. Complaints, apparently about the misuse of police resources for a personal case, were made to the Honolulu Ethics Commission.

By all accounts, the city ethics commission staff, including its former director and investigator, were on the trail of the abuse of power and misuse of police resources.

That’s where the system of checks and balances broke down. No, I take that back. It didn’t break down. It was sabotaged by the Caldwell administration.

The ethics investigation of the Kealoha matter was effectively quashed when its top staff were essentially fired after the makeup of the commission changed.

We need to go back and look a lot harder at the commission’s decision to muzzle, and then force out, its executive director and investigator, the circumstances around that decision, and how and by whom these decisions were made. Only then can we start to address what needs to be done to correct the situation.

It’s important to keep in mind that putting a lid on the commission’s investigation of the Kealoha case wasn’t a one-off thing. It followed several tense years during which Mayor Caldwell’s administration had been blocking the commission from doing its work, starving its budget, stonewalling its attempts to collect evidence and obtain city records, etc., etc.

Sacking the director and investigator was just the end of an extended period during which the administration tried its best to stonewall ongoing ethics investigations.

Looking back, this administration–as previous ones–had its people on the commission, individuals who straddled both the mayor’s campaign and the commission’s internal decisions. From the outside, it certainly appeared the administration had long attempted to control, constrain, limit, or quash certain commission investigations. For whose benefit, or at whose request, we don’t really know.

I suspect that we’ll be learning more as this continues to play out.…

Meanwhile: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell defends his ‘move on’ comments following Kealoha verdicts

Background: 

read … Thoughts on the Kealoha verdict

Will Katherine Kealoha Rat out Caldwell, Kaneshiro, Leong?

SA: … Victor Bakke, a criminal defense attorney and a former deputy prosecutor, said Kealoha’s incarceration “gives the government a lot of leverage.”

Now that she is behind bars, Bakke said Kealoha likely will be more willing to strike a deal with prosecutors.

He believes federal prosecutors now will seek information from her as part of their investigation of city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, Kealoha’s former boss, who is on paid leave after receiving a “target letter” from the U.S. Department of Justice related to Kealoha’s case.

“The only way she can maybe help herself is try to cut a deal with the government,” Bakke said.

Kealoha faces two upcoming trials, and Bakke said the judge revoked her bail in all three cases, believing she presented an obstruction danger in the upcoming cases, as well.

With her bail revoked in all three cases, that means Kealoha will remain behind bars until all three are resolved, Bakke said….

HNN: Corp Counsel Donna Leong gets Target Letter

read … Katherine Kealoha to remain behind bars until all 3 cases against her are resolved

Kealoha Verdict May Affect Other Cases

HNN: … Donna Leong, the city’s corporation counsel, and city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro are both on leave pending the investigation. Kaneshiro is also facing an impeachment trial….

The course of other lawsuits also could be affected, including one filed by the Kealohas against former City Ethics Commission Director Chuck Totto.

Totto was forced out of his job after he began investigating the couple.

“Obviously, I feel vindicated to a degree," said Totto. “I’m glad that in a sense, we were right But this is a horrible thing for the city to go through.”

Totto’s attorney said he doesn’t think the Kealohas will pursue that lawsuit anymore.

Less clear is whether the verdict could reverse a $600,000 judgement the Kealohas won against Puana and his mother Florence in state court.

Puana’s lawyer hopes an appeals courts will now throw that out….

read … The fallout from the Kealoha case could last for years ... and cost taxpayers millions more

Kealoha To Keep Pension?

SA: … Caldwell spokesman Andrew Pereira said Friday the city has begun the process of taking back a controversial $250,000 payment the Police Commission gave to Kealoha as part of his “retirement agreement.” The agreement called for the police chief to return the money if convicted of a felony.

Pereira said he’s not sure whether the city would be allowed to go after Kealoha’s retirement benefits from his 33 years with HPD….

read … Untouchables

OHA’s code of conduct attack on free speech

SA: … This code is a travesty that elevates the interests of trustees above those of the people they were elected to serve, by demanding loyalty to the board rather than to their constituents.

It is an attack on free speech and the democratic process, and creates a board culture that encourages cronyism and conflicts of interest. All that’s missing is the secret handshake….

As long as OHA or any other board is allowed to adopt these despotic codes of conduct, the interests of their constituents will never be properly served….

read … OHA’s code of conduct attack on free speech

HPD Investigating Fatal Shooting By Deputy Sheriff As A Possible Murder Case

CB: … The Honolulu Police Department is investigating the February shooting death of a homeless man at the State Capitol by a deputy sheriff as a second-degree murder case, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said Friday.

The man, 28-year-old Delmar Espejo, died shortly after what authorities described as a struggle with a deputy sheriff the night of Feb. 18.  The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office found that Espejo died after being shot in the back at close range, according to an autopsy report released in April.

HPD originally investigated the incident as an “unattended death” case, but reclassified it as a second-degree murder case, Yu said.

The case has been referred to the Honolulu Prosecutors Office, which is deciding whether or not to pursue charges, spokesman Brooks Baehr said. Baehr declined to discuss specifics of the case….

All three agencies declined to identify the deputy sheriff who reportedly shot Espejo….

The deputy sheriff who shot Espejo has been with DPS since 2017. Schwartz did not answer a question regarding the deputy’s employment status other than to say that the deputy was placed on restrictive duty following the shooting….

read … HPD Investigating Fatal Shooting By Deputy Sheriff As A Possible Murder Case

Homeless Trash Kailua-Kona

HPR: … The most recent Point in Time count says the Big Island has 690 homeless individuals, with around 150 thought to hang out around downtown Hilo, and 150 fairly visible around downtown Kailua Village. 

Businessman Mattson Davis runs what's called the Brewery Block in Kona, current and future home to several restaurants and shops. His frustration reflects the feelings of many in the community.

"We've increased our security to the tune of $2,000 a month. We probably have a dozen people camping and loitering and hanging out on the sidewalks. Every day we're picking up two to three garbage bags full of trash off of our properties — human feces, clothes, couches, we've got mattresses, tarps, everything.  We're probably asking two dozen people a day to leave our property that have been arrested for trespassing and yet are still back there."

Sharon Hirota is with Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim's office. She says the County is using $4 million dollars in state funding to create two Ohana Zone projects to help address the problem.

"The first project in East Hawaii, we're converting the old Memorial Hospital, an ideal space to provide up to 50 emergency beds for single men. Another project is Kukui Ola, formerly known as Village 9, off of Kealakehe Parkway. Phase one will add up to 30 emergency beds for individuals, tiny homes, people will have shared showers and access to kitchen facilities."

Hirota says the County is also adding an assessment center in West Hawaii at the Homes at UluWini to assess the needs of families and then try to find housing and services. She expects all three projects to be in operation later this year….

read … Big Island Wrestles with Homelessness

ACLU Complaint Not Enough Homeless On Display

SA: … Doherty is being joined at the mayors conference by Katy Miller, the Seattle-based USICH regional coordinator, who has said that Hawaii is addressing homelessness on several positive fronts that should be expanded to be even more effective.

For instance, Miller called the partnerships between Honolulu police, sheriff’s deputies and social workers “exciting.”

“The fact that the police have a role about engagement is a tool they didn’t have in their toolkit,” she said.

As Doherty and Miller spoke to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty issued an open letter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors attendees that blasted Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “compassionate disruption” approach to dealing with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation.

“As you see our city, the streets will likely be pristine, and the tents, tarps, and houseless people will likely be nowhere in sight,” the letter reads. “The conclusion the city wants you to draw from your visit is that its ‘war on homelessness’ — grounded in its strategy of ‘compassionate disruption’ — is working….

read … The Homeless are Propaganda Pieces

Dozens of schools and even a food truck are feeding Hawaii kids for free this summer

HNN: … It’s called the Seamless Summer Option, and it provides free breakfast and lunch to students. This year, a record 71 schools across the islands are participating.

And for the first time this summer, a food truck is delivering fresh meals to students across the Leeward Coast who don’t have reliable access to transportation.

Volunteers from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center partnered with the Hawaii Department of Education to run the ‘Aina Pono food delivery truck.

The truck makes five stops in low-income areas during the weekdays, serving about 600 meals a day.

They try to reach children who live at shelters or who don’t have the transportation to get to schools or community centers, where free meals are being served….

KGI: Maoloha on the move

read … Dozens of schools and even a food truck are feeding Hawaii kids for free this summer

Ige, Trump Agree: Expand Apprenticeship Programs

WHT: … Prior to Friday’s luncheon, Ige spoke about a recent meeting held earlier this month with President Donald Trump, U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and seven other governors for a conversation on workforce development.

“We’ve all seen the projections about the jobs of the future requiring different skills and more education,” Ige told West Hawaii Today. “And, really, he’s committed to closing the gap about making sure that our educational institutions are teaching the knowledge and skills that the students have.”

Ige said one of the programs Hawaii is embracing is the adoption of apprenticeship models popularly found in construction trades and then applying those to industries experiencing workforce shortages.

That includes looking at employers with chronic openings, working with them to identify the skill sets their employees need and then working with high schools and community colleges to develop programs that prepare students with the skills employers are looking for.

Employers then have the opportunity to take apprentices on and pay them as they learn, and through these apprenticeships, workers have guaranteed employment once they complete the program.

Already, Ige said, apprenticeship programs have already been designed in fields like information technology and cybersecurity.

“And hopefully then we can get residents to fill these vacancies,” he said, “rather than have to promote and import from out of state.”

The governor also pointed to increasing access to early college programs, which Ige said he believes is a “transformation for our high school students,” saying it’s critical that students have the opportunity to pursue college courses….

read … Governor talks education, workforce development at Chamber luncheon

Would-be water bottler appeals denial of permit

HTH: … The lawsuit seeks a court order vacating the permit denial and remanding the matter back to the commission “to enter an order granting” the SMA application….

Piilani’s plans to drill into the aquifer and construct the bottling plant on a 2.57-acre parcel of land zoned for light industrial use that Piilani leases and plans to buy from Matsuno Enterprises have proven controversial….

During a Feb. 8 meeting of the commission, Tom Nance, a groundwater hydrologist representing Piilani, testified the wells’ maximum water extraction rate — up to 200,000 gallons a day — would be but a fraction of the maximum sustainable yield of the aquifer, which he said would sustain hundreds of millions of gallons to be extracted per day.

Nance also said tapping into the Maunakea aquifer would cause only an infinitesimal change of the water flow of the aquifer into the ocean, causing no impact to ocean life.

read … Would-be water bottler appeals denial of permit

Second Lady Karen Pence addresses military families at Pearl Harbor

HNN: … Second Lady Karen Pence spoke to military families at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Circle on Friday.

During her speech, Pence commended military spouses for the sacrifices they make in the name of national security.

The second lady also advocated the Blue Star Museums program.

The program offers free museum admission to active duty military personnel and their families….

On Saturday, Pence will speak at the U.S. Conference of Mayors ….

read … Second Lady Karen Pence addresses military families at Pearl Harbor

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