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Tuesday, July 30, 2019
July 30, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:37 PM :: 4000 Views

OHA Anti-Telescope Activism Begins With Rejection of Cayetano-Era 'Settlement'

Native Claims: How Alaska Found a Settlement

$350M Stadium Bill: "Abusive Gut and Replace" Scheme being Challenged in Court

Ige names Rona Suzuki interim director of DOTAX

Ige Considers Judicial Nominees for Six Positions

Judges Seated by Trump Begin to Transform ‘9th Circus’

Kealoha Retaliation: A List of Caldwell Admin Officials Involved

CB: … In 2015, when it became clear the Kealohas were the subject of a federal criminal investigation, the political establishment began to close ranks around them.

The Honolulu Police Commission, which is the only entity that can hire or fire a chief, refused to look into Louis Kealoha. In fact, it gave him high marks for his work as police chief even though he was at the center of a major corruption probe.

The commission is a volunteer entity made up of mayoral appointees. The chairman at the time was Ron Taketa, who is the head of the Hawaii Carpenters Union and a close political ally of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Taketa ignored the many signs that his chief was under federal investigation, and instead continued to give him favorable annual evaluations.

Caldwell, too, danced around the topic. He repeatedly avoided questions about the federal investigation, calling it a private matter. When he finally did speak out during a 2015 television interview it was to encourage Kealoha to defend himself publicly.

“The chief has told me he’s innocent,” Caldwell said at the time. “I’ve told him you need to get a handle on this. You need to get out in front of this.”

The mayor often deferred to the police commission when it came to providing oversight of Kealoha. He didn’t replace Taketa until nearly a year after his term had expired, and only after questions were raised about why Taketa was still on the commission.

Even the head of the police union backed the chief.

Tenari Maafala, who was then the president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, threw his union’s support behind Kealoha shortly after the Puana case was turned over to the FBI. He then attacked the media for presenting a “skewed” version of the facts.

Maafala’s loyalty to Kealoha never wavered, even when the police commission forced the chief to retire with a $250,000 severance payment after he was officially named the target of a federal criminal probe.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro also publicly criticized the Justice Department and its investigators, and in particular Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, who was specially assigned out of San Diego to conduct the criminal probe.

Kaneshiro repeatedly defended his deputy, Katherine Kealoha, even when it started to emerge that Kaneshiro himself might be part of Wheat’s investigation….

In February 2015, Louis Kealoha sent a letter to Totto asking him to remove DeCaires from the case, saying she had a conflict of interest because she used to work for HPD and that she had applied for the chief’s job in 2009, the same year he was selected for the post.

He asked that any investigation into HPD officers be suspended until an independent investigator could be assigned to the case.

When Totto refused, Kealoha’s deputy chief, Dave Kajihiro, sent a follow up request, saying that leaving DeCaires on the case “fails to serve the public interest and will call the integrity of the process into question.”…

Katherine Kealoha also lodged a series of complaints against Totto and DeCaires, accusing them of various ethical violations related to the supposed conflicts.

Her boss, Kaneshiro, had already sent an email to Totto asking him for details about the investigation. He also questioned whether DeCaires had a conflict of interest because she once applied for a job in his office and didn’t get it.

The Kealohas, using the pseudonyms “Public Servant,” “Doe”and “Roe,” filed lawsuits against the commission in 2015 trying to halt the investigations and extract information about what exactly it was Totto and DeCaires were looking into.

In September 2015, Caldwell’s deputy managing director, Georgette Deemer, sent a letter to Totto asking him to provide an overview of his investigations into the Honolulu Police Department.

She said the managing director “has the authority to review and evaluate the management and performance of each executive agency,” and that any information Totto shared would be kept confidential.

Even SHOPO filed a grievance, saying it was concerned about all the officers who were being interviewed by the commission without the investigators disclosing details about their inquiry.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Ethics Commission was going through its own changes.

In 2014, after Totto had called attention to the mayor’s own ethics through an investigation of a luau to celebrate Caldwell’s election — paid for by donors with ties to the city — Caldwell appointed three new commissioners. The three were former judges — Riki May Amano, Victoria Marks and Allene Suemori.

Soon, Caldwell’s top cabinet officials, led by Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, began fiddling with the commission’s budget, blocking access to information needed for investigations and issuing its own ethics advice to city employees.

Caldwell’s Human Resources Director Carolee Kubo — a donor to the inauguration luau — even described the ethics commission’s investigations into various aspects of the city administration as “witch-hunting.”

Although the three new members didn’t constitute the majority on the seven-member commission, their influence was undeniable and the commission became more antagonistic toward Totto.

For one thing, they didn’t like how Totto had handled the fallout from the Romy Cachola investigation, including public statements Totto made questioning whether certain votes taken in relation to Honolulu’s rail project should be nullified.

In June 2015, they imposed a restrictive media policy that effectively prevented Totto from talking to the press. The policy was quickly rescinded after public outcry, including from Hawaii’s major news outlets.

The following month, the Caldwell administration refused to renew DeCaires’ contract. All of her investigations were put on hold.

The commission dismissed the cases against Cachola’s former colleagues on the City Council and then launched an internal investigation into Totto’s own conduct….

The commission hired Big Island attorney Lincoln Ashida to take over the financial disclosure cases from Totto in December 2015, paying Ashida $10,000 to complete the ethics prosecution of the Kealohas.  Before entering private practice, Ashida was Hawaii County’s top civil attorney…. 

CB: Honolulu Needs An Ethics Commission That Is Ethical

read … The Kealoha Corruption Case Cost These Two Investigators More Than Their Jobs

Fired HPD Sgt DUI Links Kealoha, Miske

SA: … Lee pleaded no contest earlier this month to reckless driving, in place of the DUI. In exchange the city prosecutor dropped the misdemeanor false reporting charge. Both parties agreed to the $500 fine, and the state recommended that Lee perform up to 60 hours of community service.

Circuit Judge Edward Kubo immediately imposed the fine and 60 hours of community service.

The Honolulu Police Department fired Lee in May 2018.

Lee had previously sought to have the DUI and false reporting charges dismissed, claiming that he was being prosecuted in retaliation for arresting a convicted felon against the wishes of former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

He said before he arrested Michael John Miske Jr. in December 2014 for refusing to comply with a lawful order of a police officer, Kealoha and another person from the city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney told one of his subordinate officers to leave Miske alone. He also said Kealoha told his subordinate that Miske was assisting the city prosecutor in another case.

At the time of the arrest, Miske owned Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control and a Restaurant Row nightclub. He has felony convictions for kidnapping, attempted assault, theft and credit card fraud, and was being prosecuted by the city for assault in connection with the beating of two people in a parking lot near the nightclub.

Thomas Otake, one of Miske’s lawyers, said Miske never met Kealoha in his life.

Lee also said he believes Kealoha was behind a complaint against him that resulted in him getting a written reprimand for not claiming overtime on the day he arrested Miske….

Meanwhile:

read … Fired Honolulu police sergeant gets fine in plea deal

Cayetano: Call in National Guard, Open Road to Build Telescope

HNN: … Protesters said they were heartened by Kim’s statements and want TMT to come to the table.

“It was clear in his press conference that he does not have answers," said Kahookahi Kanuha, one of the leaders of the protest. “He doesn’t know how this is going to end and he doesn’t not know how they are going to move forward. We have answers. The TMT has other options.”

But critics wonder why the mayor, and not the governor, is leading the effort to end the standoff.

“The governor should be handling this period," said TMT supporter and former Gov. Ben Cayetano. “You don’t just delegate this crisis to a mayor. So I don’t agree with that.”

He says Ige should be enforcing the law and clearing the protest camp without National Guard.

"It's a very difficult situation, but had they nipped it in the bud, I don't think it would be what it is today," said Cayetano.

Hawaii News Now repeatedly asked the Governor’s Office on Monday for clarification on Kim’s role and they have not issued any statements….

read … Big Island mayor says he has little authority over law enforcement at TMT protest

Protest setting scary precedent

HTH: … We have entered into a bizarre and disturbing reality over the past two weeks.

Gov. David Ige has all but failed to hold true to the oath of office he took to support and defend Hawaii’s Constitution and laws and he has delegated, more like pawned off, the state’s authority to enforce such laws to well-meaning Mayor Harry Kim of Hawaii Island.

Whether through inadequate planning, even after having years to prepare, or by simple incompetence, Mr. Ige and his administration has effectively lost control of the situation and narrative on the mountain since day one, allowing a small and strident minority to fall back on tried and tested tales of grievance, blame and victimization when the reality on the Maunakea Access Road is crystal clear from a law perspective.….

Once duly elected public officials decide to set aside upholding and enforcing the rule of law because of political or cultural or historical grievance considerations, we embark down a scary slippery slope where a vocal and media-savvy minority can dictate terms to the rest of us.

Can we afford to allow this vocal group to effectively overthrow years’ worth of proper legal and procedural efforts on the part of the many parties who have played by the rules to get to the starting line of starting construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope?

Even putting aside all the time and millions spent over the past 10 years. Even putting aside the inevitable reinforcement that Hawaii is an inhospitable, if not risky, place to try and do business. Do we as the nation’s best example of a healthy multicultural and inclusive state want to set a precedent that procedures, rules and laws don’t really matter? That it’s possible to do things honorably and by the book and still get torpedoed by protesters and flaccid political leaders who, even when they don’t face re-election, can’t bring themselves to uphold their oaths?….

read … Protest setting scary precedent

Chaos Swirls around Kim Im-Possible: Deals or no Deals on Mauna Kea?

HTH: … Kim said the only real consensus from the meeting was an “acknowledgment of differing viewpoints,” as well as an agreement to have more meetings in the hope of reaching a solution agreeable to all parties.

Kim reaffirmed his intention to find an end to the standoff over TMT as quickly as possible, saying he “does everything with urgency,” but explained that his authority to expedite the process is limited.

Kim also said he is unaware of two reported deals that were offered to TMT opponents occupying Maunakea Access Road.

One deal, reportedly made last week, offered to suspend TMT construction activity if demonstrators allowed vehicles to return to the summit, but it was rejected by protesters. Kim said Monday that, while his office did not make such an offer, one of his goals is for access to the mountain to “return to normality” until the TMT dispute can be resolved.

The other deal supposedly was made Sunday, when demonstrators announced that they would allow observatory workers to the summit in exchange for one vehicle of their own to be permitted up the mountain. Kim said he was unaware of such a deal….

read … Kim recaps TMT meeting, reiterates opposition to use of force

Kaniela Ing: “My knowledge is just as important as knowledge that came from a telescope"

HNN: … "It really shows this isn't a negative movement, this is a positive movement to shine an example of that culture that respects native rights and a science that's ethical and can exist at the same time as indigenous people because our knowledge is just as important as knowledge that came from a telescope," Ing said….

(Question: Can the knowledge of Ing find “Saito”.  It seems to be missing.)

The True Knowledge of the Ing:

read … From a Know-Nothing

An Opportunity to Stop Rail at Middle Street

HPR: … Earlier this month, Honolulu Council Chair Ikaika Anderson submitted the resolution, which would amend the City Charter to do away with the agency. The resolution cites the authority's reported mismanagement and funding woes as reasons for the move.

If approved, the city would ask voters on the 2020 general election ballot whether to get rid of HART. It would then transfer the authority's operations to the city's Department of Transportation Services….

Caldwell is concerned that a motion to dissolve HART could jeopardize federal funding. He said the authority and the city are still working on unlocking more than $740 million that is being withheld by the federal government as it continues its investigation into the rail project.

"Any kind of change could trouble the Federal Transit Administration," Caldwell said.

Caldwell is also concerned about the kind of impact HART's dissolution could have on public-private partnership bids to help develop the rail project as well as on funding coming from the state….

According to Caldwell, he could veto the resolution if it passes the City Council, because it did not come from the City's Charter Commission….

Text: Reso 19-070

read … Caldwell: 'We Should Be Cautious Moving Forward' on HART Resolution

Next Boondoggle: Request for Qualifications sought for Neal S. Blaisdell Center public-private partnership

KHON: … The city’s Purchasing Division, under the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services (BFS), announced Monday that the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a potential public-private partnership (P3) with development partners has been issued and interested parties have until October 31 to respond.

The development partner is expected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the redeveloped Neal S. Blaisdell campus.

“The proposed public-private partnership would benefit the city and provide a next generation civic center for our residents by paying a significant portion of the costs related to construction,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “Civic centers have proven to be economic drivers for cities around the world. Unless we upgrade, Honolulu will no longer be able to attract the kinds of arts, culture, entertainment and sporting events that our citizens enjoy. This is a project that will serve the community for decades to come.”

The city is currently undertaking an estimated $772 million redevelopment of the 22-acre Blaisdell campus, which is under the control of the Department of Enterprise Services….

read … Request for Qualifications sought for Neal S. Blaisdell Center public-private partnership

HPD Racks up $20M Overtime

SA: … Soon after she was promoted as chief, Ballard told the Honolulu City Council about cutting services, including investigation of some felonies by detectives. But in order to keep staffing of patrol districts at a minimum 80% level, the chief authorized overtime.

It’s costly. HPD’s spending ledger for the 2019 fiscal year shows a budget-busting $20.7 million in overtime pay, more than half of that for the needed patrol shifts. It’s also a long-term problem: The vacancy level has been stubbornly persistent. The June 2019 figure stood at 270 officer vacancies out of a total of 2,143 positions — 20 more unfilled slots since November 2017.

Violent crimes will be pursued to the fullest extent. HPD affirms that all cases with viable leads will be investigated. But nonviolent crimes lacking leads must be documented and back-burnered, said Deputy Chief Jonathan Grems — still active but not taking up precious investigatory resources.

While that policy may be expected, it is decidedly not optimal.

According to the department’s 2018 annual report, property crime — including burglary, larceny and motor-vehicle theft — represented the vast majority of cases. Of the year’s total of 31,091, these three categories tallied 28,651 cases.

By comparison, the grouping of major violent crimes comprising murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault added up to 2,440 cases….

read … $20M Overtime

“Community-Based” Solar Gardens Failing—Cost Double

IM: … The idea is that a developer could build a solar facility and sell the electricity to the utility. A ratepayer could make an initial payment to the solar company to get credit for a portion of the solar produced which would be reflected by a reduction in their electric bill.

The mechanism to handle the accounting and finances is anticipated to be ready in 2020.

The Public Utilities Commission recently held a status conference on Community-Based Renewable Energy.

Because Phase I was limited to small systems, the average cost to all ratepayers is about twice the price of recently announced HECO, MECO, and HELCO solar contracts.

The HECO Companies would pay 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to CBRE solar companies but only 7-11 cents per kilowatt-hour to non-CBRE solar companies. The higher costs are due in part to the fact that CBRE systems are required to be small systems that lack economies of scale.

The price paid to CBRE solar projects is for solar only, while the price paid to non-CBRE solar companies includes batteries to store and move daytime solar produced into the evening peak demand period.

With the exception of Moloka`i and perhaps Kauai, all Community-Based Renewable Energy appear to be aimed only at commercial customers.

Half of the proposed projects appear to be in trouble.

Proposed projects were accepted on a first filed basis and many of the initial applications were incomplete and/or lack site control, a requirement of the application for all HECO, MECO, and HELCO service territories.

By contrast, KIUC did not require site control and the projects moving forward on Kauai still have not found sites to build their facilities.

Many of the proposed projects still must complete a five-month interconnection study.

One issue still to be resolved involves allocating part of the projects to meeting the needs of Low to Moderate Income residential ratepayers. Allowing a generous definition of poverty allows developers to market the program to people who are better off.

The Legislation stated, “All Hawaii residents should be able to participate.”

When Phase 1 is completed, the number of residential ratepayers able to sign up maybe about 0.02 percent of all ratepayers….

read … Hawai`i Community-Based Solar Gardens Experiencing Initial Start-Up Bumps

Beach Clean-up volunteer punched by Knife-Wielding Homeless Drug Addict in unprovoked attack

HNN: … “I’m not sure if you can see this bump on the left side of my face,” she said. “Kind of nuts. This has gone on way too long. Something needs to be done about this.”

It was day two of a park clean-up. Volunteers had just finished loading bags of rubbish into a container when Parnes says she heard someone behind her.

“At that point she stood up and started swinging and said you’re the four letter word that starts with a 'c' that’s causing all this trouble for us," she said.

Witnesses say when Parnes didn’t fall after she was hit, the woman lunged towards a bag ― and reached inside.

"She actually told Penny she was going to stab her. That she had a knife,” said Louis Galdeira.

Parnes said, “I took her bag. Because that seemed like the safest thing to do.”

For years, the area ― also known as Hau Bush ― has been plagued by drugs and violence. Just last month, a 15-year-old was hospitalized after being stabbed in the stomach there….

“They’re angry that regular people are standing up and taking back their park,” said Councilwoman Kymberly Pine….

A community meeting to discuss the matter is set for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Kapolei Hale….

read … ‘She started swinging’: Clean-up volunteer punched in unprovoked attack

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