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Tuesday, July 02, 2019
July 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 2807 Views

OHA Needs a Watchdog!

DoH: Six Months of Suicide in Hawaii

Carpenters Union, PRP Covered up Kealoha Crimes

SA: … Mayor Kirk Caldwell insulted the citizens of Honolulu with his blithe comment that it’s “time to move on” from the Kealoha conspiracy convictions.

These crimes, their coverups, and the passive complicity of the Prosecutor’s Office all occurred under his watch.

Caldwell also was cozy with Ron Taketa, then chairman of the Honolulu Police Commission (giving glowing annual evaluations to crooked Kealoha) and head of the carpenters’ union. Caldwell benefited from the $3 million the union spent via its advocacy group, Pacific Resource Partnership, to help him win the 2012 mayoral election.

Why did Caldwell ignore all of the screaming signals of dysfunction and deception at the Honolulu Police Department? And the conflicts of interest rampant at the Prosecutor’s Office?

In Hawaii, one refrain remains true through the ages: Follow the money.

read … Caldwell ignored signs of deception at HPD

’Chronic Malingerer’ Katherine Kealoha needs to get out of jail for surgery or cancer or something

KHON: … He says the main concern now is for her to get medical treatment for cancer. He says he didn’t ask her what type of cancer she has. But he says she has a tumor that needs to be removed. He says she had another tumor removed before.

“She doesn’t know her prognosis because she needs surgery to remove another tumor. It’s on her spine and until she gets an evaluation for that she doesn’t know where this is going to go,” said Partington.

Partington says the federal government is making arrangements for Kealoha to be escorted out of the detention center to get the treatment she needs….

Partington says he will file an appeal to Kealoha’s guilty verdict. But he has to wait until she is sentenced, which is scheduled for October….

read … Attorney says Katherine Kealoha needs surgery

Criminals Still on HPD Payroll: Nguyen, Hahn still on paid leave after conspiracy conviction—Sellers Still Working as Sergeant

KITV: … There's an investigation currently underway by HPD's professional standards office regarding Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen's termination….

There were other officers involved in the corruption case:

Major Gordon Shiraishi was acquitted of all the charges against him. He's retired from HPD.

Officer Niall Silva is also retired but he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is waiting for sentencing.

Sergeant Daniel Sellers pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of probation for disclosing confidential information to Katherine. He is on restricted duty at HPD, not on leave….

read … Nguyen, Hahn still on paid leave after conspiracy conviction

Taxpayers Shouldn’t Expect Louis Kealoha To Pay Them Back Anytime Soon

CB: … the agreement states Kealoha doesn’t have to actually pay back that money until he’s exhausted all his appeal options, a process that can take years….

read … Cyasuckas

Secret Reports Holds Keys to Hawaii’s Underperforming Jails 

SA: … DPS’s lagging performance on multiple fronts has been a driver behind the passage of House Bill 1552, which creates an independent commission to oversee the corrections system.

State Sen. Clarence Nishihara, public safety committee chairman, said he already considered an investigation into the inmate-tracking contract and may launch one next session. That is a commitment he should keep.

There have been inmates released too early, as well as too late. Tracking inmates’ release dates has been a problem plaguing DPS for years, according to attorneys representing inmates who have made legal claims against the state.

The decade-old case of Nolan Fraser, held at Maui Community Correctional Center 2-1/2 months beyond his release date, is an example, one that cost the state a $25,000 settlement. And that’s just a drop in the bucket. The state paid out $1.2 million in a class-action suit to settle hundreds of claims by inmates that they were over-detained.

The problem may lie in the tracking system itself — or in the execution of the program by people insufficiently trained. Until the unredacted report is released, there’s no way to know.

In 2010, the state auditor released a management audit of the department in its contracting for prison beds and services. In that report, the auditor concluded that DPS has “woefully underused Offendertrak, designed as a comprehensive inmate management tool.”

And yet, a major rationale for hiring Pas de Chocolat and for finding software to replace Offendertrak is because Offendertrak couldn’t serve DPS’s data needs. So, what was the actual assessment of the existing system, which has yet to be replaced?

It wasn’t replaced, according to the $1.37 million consultant’s report, because the department “has significant gaps to address” before a major software replacement is recommended.

What are the gaps? The recommendations were blacked out and the company wouldn’t elaborate….

read … DPS drops ball on inmate data

State again seeks to subpoena Airbnb records

SA: … The state Department of Taxation is again asking a judge for permission to force vacation rental giant Airbnb Inc. to turn over the booking records of operators in Hawaii who advertise with them.

The Department of the Attorney General filed a new petition Friday on behalf of state Tax Director Linda Chu Takayama seeking permission to serve an administrative subpoena on Airbnb for the records “relating to certain, yet unknown operators of short-term rentals in Hawai‘i.”

The subpoena is necessary because “there is a reasonable basis for believing that the ascertainable group or class may have failed to comply with any provision of Hawaii’s state tax laws,” and “the information sought is not readily available from other sources,” the petition says.

The matter is scheduled to be heard by Circuit Judge Bert Ayabe at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 21….

SA Editorial: Taking action on vacation rentals

read … State again seeks to subpoena Airbnb records

DOE Required To Collect More Teacher Data

CB: …Starting in the coming school year, the Hawaii Department of Education will be required to collect data on the number of classrooms around the state that do not have a licensed teacher for a quarter or more out of the year.

The data collection is mandated by a new law signed by Gov. David Ige last month. It’s aimed at trying to provide a better picture of where exactly in the state a high — and persistent — concentration of unlicensed teachers are based.

The DOE currently is required to submit only the number of classrooms statewide that employ an emergency hire. An emergency hire is a full-time employee who did not go through a teacher preparation program but can be assigned to one school the entire year.

An unlicensed teacher could very well be a substitute who is cycling through a classroom on a day to day basis.

The new required data point “will help the Legislature, schools, and Hawaii (teacher) preparation programs know the true need for closing the teacher recruitment and retention gap,” Lynn Hammonds, the executive director of Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, wrote in testimony in support of the bill.

The DOE will be required to collect and submit the new data to HTSB, which is the state teacher licensing entity.

The information will be included in the HTSB’s annual report, likely starting not until the year after next.

read … DOE Required To Collect More Teacher Data

Ritte Grabs for Molokai Ranch Water (again)

HNN: …With the ranch now up for sale, the group filed a petition Monday with the state Commission on Water Resource Management to restore stream flows to Kawela, Waikolu, Kaunakakai and Manawainui….

(Translation: If Ritte controls the water, he will control the ranch.)

read … Activists demand water diverted for Molokai Ranch be restored

Prosecutors try to seize $140,000 from Meth Dealer

KGI: …The Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is asking for court approval to seize roughly $140,000 in cash that police allegedly confiscated during a drug raid in Koloa two years ago….

“Civil asset forfeiture frequently leaves innocent citizens deprived of personal property without having ever been charged or convicted of any crime,” Hawaii State Legislators wrote in a 2019 House Bill. “This amounts to government-sponsored theft.”

Governor David Ige recently announced that he intends to veto the bill by the end of the month, meaning Hawaii’s civil forfeiture laws will continue to be what the nonprofit advocacy group, Institute for Justice, described in a 2015 study as “among the worst in the nation.”…

Police arrested Arakawa when she answered the door on the morning of July 31. Six months later, she was arraigned on federal charges in U.S. District Court on five counts related to methamphetamine distribution. She pleaded guilty in June 2018 and was sentenced to nine years in prison last month.

Two men — Alika Soares and Jimmy Roberts — were also in Arakawa’s house at the time, according to court documents, which say both men were arrested and charged with promoting a dangerous drug.

Soares is facing that specific charge in two of the numerous cases filed against him in the last two years, but neither are connected in any way to an incident in July 2017. The names of both men are absent from the KPD arrest logs between the beginning of July and the end of August 2017, and no case has been filed in Fifth Circuit Court against anyone named Jimmy Roberts in over a decade.

In fact, there appear to be a number of discrepancies in the prosecution’s version of events. At a hearing in court last week, Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe pointed out several potential problems with the case, forcing Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tracy Murakami to ask for more time to resolve the issues….

According to the minutes of the June 25 hearing, Watanabe expressed, “concern that Ms. Arakawa was not served via certified mail,” as required by state law and raised questions about how prosecutors were handling the case.

“Further,” Watanabe said, “there are discrepancies in the amounts the state allegedly seized.”

A petition for forfeiture filed in court on Jan. 10 of this year lists three different numbers in reference to the cash seized from Arakawa’s home. On page one, prosecutors ask the court to order the forfeiture of $140,243. Near the middle of the document, that number drops to $140,073, and the next page says the search turned up “$139,775 in U.S. currency.”

The prosecution’s timeline is also confusing….

read … Prosecutors try to seize $140,000

Maui Council Amateur Hour

MN: … There was some concern by Mayor Michael Victorino’s Budget and Finance Department staffs over budget implementation after receiving requested budget details from the Maui County Council late Friday afternoon. Victorino and his staff had been asking the council for weeks for the information.

His staff worked through Sunday night to ensure the budget would be ready to go Monday.

Budget Director Michele Yoshimura said Monday afternoon that there were no glitches and that the county departments will able to process payments.

“But we are still reviewing the budget by fund,” she said.

She added that there may be a need for budget amendments to be brought to the council.

The mayor’s administration said it needed specific information on the $823.5 million budget the council approved, the largest budget in county history and $43 million more than the mayor’s proposal.

The information sought, which traditionally has been provided by the council to the mayor, is a spreadsheet showing specific cuts and additions made to the budget initially proposed by the mayor. It is not required by law but has served as a guide to the administration for at least two decades.

In an email Monday, council Budget and Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said (insert excuse here)…

read … Budget director: Maui County is able to pay bills

Dimwitted Hawaii County Council Members Try Again on Old Bank of America Shakedown

HTH: … A decades-old dispute over $150 million in home loans for Native Hawaiians has captured the attention of two Hawaii County councilwomen, who have sponsored a nonbinding resolution supporting Gov. David Ige’s attempts to bring Bank of America back to the bargaining table.

Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy are co-sponsoring Resolution 209, scheduled to be discussed at the July 9 County Council meeting.

The dispute began after Kahului-based Na Po E Kokua Inc. formed the Hawaiian Fair Lending Coalition and conducted research that led to the Federal Reserve System and Office of Thrift Supervision ordering the bank to make $150 million in Federal Housing Administration mortgages available on Hawaiian Home Lands by 1998.

The bank originated $13.1 million in loans on Hawaiian Home Lands from 1994 to 2012, and has made no FHA-247 loans since then, according to account information provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Aug. 20, 2018, the resolution says.

Gov. David Ige has sent letters to bank officials asking them to a meeting with government officials and Na Po E Kokua Inc. to sort things out.

“We continue to work with the agencies on this issue,” Ige said Monday through a spokeswoman.

The bank, however, maintains that DHHL let it off the hook years ago.

“Please know that in 2007, we received confirmation from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that we delivered $150 million in community development activity in Hawaii,” Andrew Plepler, Bank of America’s global environmental, global and governance executive, said in an Oct. 18 letter to Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey. “However, as result of several recent inquiries on this topic, and out of respect for those who have questioned this activity, we have recently spent considerable time reviewing once again the history and records related to our community development lending and investments.”

read … Fake Issue

Leilani Estates Community Association exploring ways to curb tourist access to subdivision

HTH: … Almost a year after the end of liquid lava in lower Puna, Leilani Estates continues to wrestle with packs of tourists attracted to the vestiges of last year’s Kilauea eruption.

Leilani Estates Community Association President Andy Andrews said the subdivision frequently sees vans of tourists traveling the streets to catch a glimpse of the cooled lava and the remains of fissure 8.

The influx of tourist groups has led to crowding on residential streets, with groups often parking on roads that even residents are not allowed to park on, and visitors often climb the lava flows to reach the top of fissure 8. And while Andrews said there haven’t been any “nasty confrontations,” he admitted “shouting matches” have broken out between residents and tourists on occasion….

read … Leilani Estates Community Association exploring ways to curb tourist access to subdivision

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