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Friday, August 30, 2019
August 30, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:49 PM :: 2571 Views

Open Letter: OHA Trustees must say "no" to proposals rushed through the process based on friendships and nepotism

Mauna Kea: 16 Arrests, 1240 Tickets

Hawaii: $100 goes a lot further on Sister Isles

Workshops: How to Participate in Legislative Process

Caldwell Admin Using Taxpayer Dollars to Fight Disclosure of Records, Emails Seized by Feds in Raids on Fasi Building

CB: … After federal officials seized a number of Honolulu documents and employee emails in January, the city is now paying a mainland lawyer – nearly $200,000 so far – to prevent the feds from seeing privileged information, according to City Councilman Ron Menor.

“The city attorneys felt the emails that were being requested could contain information protected by the attorney-client work product privileges and potentially the right to privacy (damaging to the Caldwell Administration and certain councilmembers)” Menor, who chairs the council’s executive matters and legal affairs committee, said on Thursday…. (edited to induce accuracy)

The councilman, who was briefed on the matter by the corporation counsel’s office, said he could not recall (refuses to reveal) the names of those whose email accounts were included, the departments or what time period the materials cover.

A search warrant was served on the city’s department of information technology in January. Mayor Kirk Caldwell mentioned the warrant that month when he announced Corporation Counsel Donna Leong had received a target letter from the FBI.

In February, the corporation counsel’s office asked the City Council to approve the hiring of the San Francisco-based law firm Farella Braun & Martel LLP for $100,000. The expenditure was approved in March. This month, the corporation counsel asked the City Council to extend those services. The council is set to vote on a resolution allowing spending up to $225,000.

The firm, which has already billed the city $196,504.96, was hired to argue that some material should not be disclosed to prosecutors, Menor said.

“So this matter is currently before a federal district court judge who is reviewing this matter to determine what information should or should not be disclosed,” he said.

A judge, whose name Menor did not know (refuses to reveal), is conducting an in camera review of the city’s records, according to Menor….

Caldwell’s administration declined to comment on the reason it hired Farella Braun & Martel….

Farella Braun & Martel says on its website that partner Douglas R. Young is “acting in 2019 as Special Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City and County of Honolulu to conduct a confidential investigation into certain matters related to ongoing federal criminal prosecutions.” The page offers no further information on his work in Honolulu. …

Leong was notified she is a target of the federal investigation regarding her involvement in Louis Kealoha’s $250,000 severance deal. She is on paid leave.

Beyond the police corruption case, the feds are also probing the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. A fresh round of subpoenas was sent out last month.

Unanswered questions remain in the federal case of Frank James Lyon, the president of the civil engineering firm Lyon Associates Inc. and a former member of the Honolulu Board of Zoning Appeals. In January, he admitted to bribing officials from Hawaii and Micronesia to secure $10 million in contracts. The names of state officials Lyon bribed, as well as a co-conspirator, have not been released by federal prosecutors. …

Alexander Silvert, a federal public defender, who represented Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, said he hadn’t heard about Young’s work. …

Jan 15, 2019: Caldwell Coverup: Mayor Hid Target Letter from Public--Feds Raid Fasi Building

Aug 28, 2019: Amemiya: Stop the Investigations Before they Nail my Cousin

read … Honolulu Fighting Disclosure of Records, Emails Seized by Feds, Councilman Says

Court report recommends Katherine Kealoha spend 11-14 years in prison

HNN: … A pre-sentence report from a federal probation officer recommends that former deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha be locked up for more than a decade.

The report considers the crimes she’s convicted of and her position of power….

In sentencing considerations, federal guidelines assign points to each crime and then allow for additional points depending on the defendant’s role, position, and the victim’s circumstances.

The report gave Kealoha 33 points, a score that carries a sentence of 135-168 months or 11-14 years.

In Kealoha’s case, 14 points were automatically assigned for the conspiracy and obstruction convictions.

She accrued additional points because of her power at the time of the crimes as a law enforcement official. Civil rights violations also increased her score as did her role as an organizer of the conspiracy….

Kealoha is already being held at the federal detention center until her sentencing on Oct. 7….

read … Court report recommends Katherine Kealoha spend 11-14 years in prison

OHA: Top 10 Employees Making Six Figures

CB: … The latest installment of the salary database includes 2,122 HHSC employees, as well as 139 employees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs….

At the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamanaopono Crabbe departed after seven years as chief executive officer and has been replaced by interim CEO Sylvia Husey, who is receiving the same $150,000 salary that Crabbe got two years ago.

OHA has been rocked by a critical state audit and ethics investigations that ensnared two former trustees. The state agency manages hundreds of millions of trust dollars for the benefit of Native Hawaiians….

The new database includes 139 OHA employees, 10 of whom earn six-figure annual salaries….

In addition to the CEO turnover, some of the other top positions at OHA have shifted in the last two years. Top earners besides Husey include:

• Lisa Watkins-Victorino, interim chief operating officer, $143,640. Two years ago as OHA research director, she got $128,016.

• Miles Nishijima, Lands Assets Division director, $126,732. Two years ago he got $124,236.

• Lisa Victor, chief technology director, $126,732. She was chief operating officer two years ago, making $140,706.

• Nicole Hind, community engagement director, $124,848. Two years ago she got $122,400.

• Raina Gushiken, senior legal counsel, $122,400, up slightly from $120,552 two years ago.

The nine elected members of the OHA Board of Trustees earn far less. Chair Colette Machado receives $66,768, while the eight other trustees get $58,560. Two years ago, the chair got $65,448 and other members $57,408.

The lowest-paid OHA employee is a community outreach coordinator making $35,880….

read … Top-Paid Public Employees In Hawaii

The bigger picture of the Lahaina injection well lawsuit

MN: … The implications of this case go far beyond just the Lahaina injection wells, which are used to dispose of highly cleaned recycled water that’s not otherwise used for irrigating golf courses and landscaping. The EPA has said that if the 9th Circuit Court’s decision stands, it must apply this decision in Hawaii and throughout the western United States. The County’s Department of Environmental Management confirmed with the state Department of Health that discharges into groundwater that eventually reach the ocean will require Clean Water Act “NPDES” (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits. This directly affects common uses such as septic systems and cesspools, drainage systems, recycled water systems and other wastewater systems; future development of housing and affordable housing because every development requires a drainage basin or subsurface drainage systems; and potable water because recycled water will be minimized or shut down along coastal areas.

The Clean Water Act was not designed by Congress to apply to these types of discharges to groundwater, and both from the county’s and private side, this creates a costly and potentially impossible regulatory burden. For the county’s four wastewater reclamation facilities, it means immediately moving toward ocean outfalls — this is to the tune of approximately $130 million to $150 million per plant, and this does not include the costs of land acquisition….

For private homeowners in the coastal areas, or anywhere near a gulch or waterway that could drain into the ground and out to the ocean, this means your system is in violation of federal law. There are individual wastewater systems that don’t utilize the ground’s natural filtration, but these self-contained systems are costly, require maintenance and ongoing electrical expense, and pumping.

Real estate industry specialists express concerns about the impacts of the 9th Circuit’s decision on property values. If properties are in violation of federal law, owners are not only required to come into compliance, but the violation will need to be disclosed on property sale or to a mortgage lender. Property values affect property taxes, which impact the county’s budget.

The scope and cost of this decision is immense. Housing and other development will be affected…

read … The bigger picture of the Lahaina injection well lawsuit

WOTUS: Maui Mayor Makes Settlement Offer

MN: … Mayor Michael Victorino has sent a Maui County Council committee a new resolution to authorize a revised settlement in the long-standing Lahaina injection well case that pits four environmental groups against the county.

The case is set to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 6, Victorino said in a statement late Thursday afternoon. The case reached the high court after circuit courts around the country were split over their ruling on the reach of the Clean Water Act. Maui County had lost in lower courts over the matter.

On Tuesday, Victorino sent a letter, accompanied by the resolution, to Mike Molina, the chairman of the council’s Governance, Ethics and Transparency Committee, asking that the resolution be heard at the committee meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers. The letter said that the proposed revised settlement terms will be presented in executive session.

The resolution transmitted to the council does not outline specific terms of the proposed revised settlement.

But Victorino said in the email that his “duty is to the people of Maui County”and his proposal offers the plaintiffs “a way to undo the harm of the lower court’s costly and unworkable decisions.”….

EarthJustice: Just Capitulate to us

Some More Lahaina Injection Wells Rhetoric from ‘scientists’ who get paid to go diving a lot 

CB: Maui County Running Out Of Time To Settle Clean Water Act Case

Pandering Mindlessly: Rep. Angus McKelvey: Maui Wastewater Lawsuit Appeal Is Wrong

More Reality than Surfrider can Handle: Feds Debunk Surfrider's Fake Bacteria Counts

read … Mayor proposes revised settlement in wastewater case

OHA Operatives Hold Keys to Mahi Pono Water Supply

MN: … As the state water commission pressed for answers, Mahi Pono was unable to say Wednesday night how much water it would need from four Wailuku-area streams to supply its farming operations.

“We’re still working on the farm plan, and of course a lot of the farm plan is driven by how much water we would be allocated,” said Grant Nakama, operations manager for Mahi Pono.

“So I can’t really say with utmost certainty what that number would be, and if I had to ballpark it right now,” he said, pausing, “I’m not going to guess, actually.”

The company’s lack of specifics frustrated kalo farmers and kuleana landowners who have waited nearly two decades for a legal battle over the streams to come to an end — and may now have to wait longer as Mahi Pono takes the place of its predecessor, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., in the drawn-out contested case.

“I think today gave you a very clear picture of how absolutely unorganized this multimillion-dollar company is,” said Hokuao Pellgrino, president of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha, one of the groups involved in the case. “I think them not even having a farm plan ready that they can share about how much water that they need, I mean, you don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars on something and sound like you just bought it blindly.” …

The latest contested case was coming to an end when Mahi Pono submitted its request to take HC&S’ place on the application.

Kudo said Wednesday that Mahi Pono hoped to settle the case with the other parties within two or three months; if not, they would request to reopen the contested case.

But Pam Bunn, attorney for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is also a party in the case, said that “there is very little left to be done in this case,” and that it was time to make a decision. She said if Mahi Pono doesn’t like the permit it gets, it can apply to amend it.

“There are dozens and dozens of people waiting for their water use permits that filed for them 10 years ago,” Bunn said. “I do understand Mahi Pono’s argument that it now owns the land and it has the right to be a participant in these proceedings, but think about it. HC&S wouldn’t be allowed to reopen the contested case at this point if it owned the land. Why would it be any different for Mahi Pono?”….

Afterwards, Pellegrino was critical of what he called Mahi Pono’s “guessing games at their water allocation.”

“HC&S always used to threaten us with sharing the water, and Mahi Pono seems to be asking to share the water,” he said. “Yet for over 120-plus years, Native Hawaiians have suffered at the hand of plantations. And I often wonder if Mahi Pono is HC&S 2.0, because tonight they showed their cards, and they don’t seem to be serious about really engaging with the Native Hawaiian community and traditional farmers within the Na Wai ‘Eha area, as well as protecting water resources.”

Pellegrino added that “while we are open to settlement, we need them to be really serious about the numbers and serious about their gallons per acre per day.”…

2007: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water

read … OHA Owns Your Water

Honolulu ‘Disaster Plan’: Next ‘Disaster is Opportunity to Seize Your Shoreline Real Estate

HNN: … Recently FEMA approved Honolulu’s 2019 “Multi-Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan,” which basically tells the feds what the city is trying to do to prevent damage and reduce costs when disaster strikes….

The topics outlined this go-around are similar to a statewide version of the mitigation plan that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency turned in to FEMA last year, in terms of climate change being focused on more than ever before, and more references to an idea called “managed retreat” — phasing out homes and businesses from the riskiest areas before they’re lost to sea level rise or continual flooding.

“When something does happen, we’ve got to build back smarter,” Toiya said. “We can’t keep building back the same place in the same way.”…

read … Disaster

Oahu Ban on Plastics Takes Next Step At City Council

HPR: .. Although the city prohibited stores from offering single-use plastic bags in 2015, an exemption allowed Oahu restaurants to still use plastics to transport prepared food.

Bill 40 would eliminate the exemption and add plastic utensils to the list of proposed single-use items to be banned. Styrofoam containers are also on that list.

Councilmember Joey Manahan introduced the measure in July…

Councilmember Carol Fukunaga proposed an amendment to the bill that would provide property tax exemptions for restaurants that fully comply with the measure. The amendment aims to alleviate any financial burden caused by a ban on plastic materials.

However, the amendment was not included in Bill 40, which passed out of committee on second reading. The committee indicated it would be open later to changes….

read … Oahu Ban on Plastics Takes Next Step At City Council

National nonprofit raises alarms about dearth of drug treatment in islands

HNN: … The national leader of a nonprofit that specializes in treating drug addiction says to get a handle on the state’s homeless crisis, more drug treatment is needed.

David Hudson, national commander of the Salvation Army, said last year alone the Hawaii chapter provided drug treatment to 5,899 people. While that may sound like a lot, officials say it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the need.

“If a person isn’t suffering from mental illness on the streets when they start becoming homeless it’s not going to take long,” said Hudson, during a visit to the Islands on Thursday.

“The stresses of life on the street will certainly have mental health outcomes.”

The state’s director of health agrees with Hudson’s assessment.

He said Hawaii is in desperate need of about 230 short-term stabilization beds, places for people with substance abuse issues to detox.

Right now, the Salvation Army located on Nimitz Highway is one of the few places people can get help.

“Most people go to the thrift store, but they don’t know there is a 72-bed facility upstairs that’s actually helping men get treatment they need,” said Salvation Army Pathway of Hope Director Anna Stone….

read … National nonprofit raises alarms about dearth of drug treatment in islands

Ten Test Cases to Force Homeless into Treatment

SA: … At first glance, a new initiative focusing on Oahu’s most severe, chronically homeless people seems underwhelming, given the scope of the problem. A closer look, though, reveals the potential.

The city is allotting $500,000 for the Institute for Human Services to help mentally ill homeless people, via court orders, to receive treatment on a monthly basis if deemed a danger to himself or herself. IHS is preparing up to 10 cases, initially, to test a state law improved by legislators this year; the previous legal threshold said the danger had to extend to others.

How the court rules on these test cases will be crucial. Success of this Outreach Navigation program would open up an array of potential positives, among them: more cost-effective treatment and services, instead of draining resources at high-cost venues such as emergency rooms; getting addled people off the streets to reduce risk of harm to themselves and others; and ideally, improving damaged lives via sustained medication and housing….

Lack of treatment for this population, so impaired by mental illness that they’re unable to recognize their own need for help, results in high use of hospital emergency rooms, ambulance, fire, police, inpatient treatment, arrest and court time — all very costly to the community at large.

It’s a cost that can drop significantly if the Outreach Navigation program, using the improved ACT law, succeeds.

In data cited from the University of Hawaii Center on the Family, an impaired homeless person receiving mental health treatment via Housing First programs resulted in savings of $6,197 monthly, an estimated 76% decrease in costs. About $140 million yearly in medical expenses could be saved by treating the impaired chronic homeless, according to one estimate….

read … Test Cases

Homeless Dude Arrested for 9000 acre Maui Arson Fire

MN: … Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said Wednesday that police have identified suspects to solve 50 percent of recent arson cases, including a wildfire that burned 9,000 acres in Central Maui and north Kihei in July.

Holden Bingham, a 28-year-old homeless man (who had not been forced into a shelter) was arrested as a suspect in that fire, which began off Waiko Road, police said.

Faaumu said the cases have been solved “through diligent work,” with police working with the Fire Department….

read … More Homeless Mayhem  

HPD Officers Still Prohibited from Displaying their Gang Tattoos

SA: … Question: Earlier this month I was watching the news, and it was about a fire in Waikiki. They showed an HPD officer wearing short sleeves, and his arm had a tattoo that ran along from his elbow to his wrist. I thought tattoos were not allowed to be visible on any parts of their bodies while working. Am I right or wrong?

Answer: You are wrong, but only because the Honolulu Police Department amended that rule last month. HPD now allows officers to display tattoos while on the job (except above the collar), as long as the tattoos are not obscene; sexual in nature; racist; gang-, alcohol- or drug-related; derogatory; in violation of any nondiscrimination law; or undermining city or departmental values, according to Policy Number 3.22, which you can read at 808ne.ws/hpd322.

Information about tattoos begins on Page 13. Notations in the left margin show when changes took effect. The blanket ban against visible tattoos while on duty was lifted July 9….

The former rule against visible body art and tattoos while on duty had been in effect for years. Some officers had objected to it on the grounds that it failed to respect Native Hawaiian cultural traditions, which can include having extensive tattoos, according to news reports in 2014.

Besides not allowing facial tattoos, the updated policy also retains rules against an officer having “any visible body ornament, intentional scarring or mutilation, or dental ornament while he or she is on duty, in uniform, or representing the department in any official capacity.”

read … HPD lifts ban against officers showing tattoos while on the job

Tulsi Gabbard rules out running as an independent presidential candidate

CNN: … Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Thursday she will not run as an independent candidate if she fails to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I will not," the Hawaii Democrat told CNN's Jim Sciutto on "Newsroom." "No, I have ruled that out."

"I'm going to continue to focus on moving our campaign forward, continuing this grassroots campaign, continuing to deliver our message to the American people and ask for their support," she added. …

In a recent interview with CBS News, Gabbard appeared to suggest that there's no circumstance in which she would not support the Democratic nominee.

"I am, as are all of the other candidates that I'm aware of running for president, committed to defeating Donald Trump in 2020. I look forward and hope to be able to earn that nomination myself, but if not, then I'll join with others in making sure that that happens," Gabbard said….

Nov 21, 2016: Cabinet Position? Donald Trump meets with Rep Tulsi Gabbard

read … Tulsi Gabbard rules out running as an independent presidential candidate

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