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Thursday, October 24, 2019
October 24, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:08 PM :: 1344 Views

State Business Tax Climate Index--Hawaii Drops from 26th to 37th

Another Sovereignty Activist Teams up with Anti-Semites

Mauna Kea Week 10: 428 Tickets, 4 Arrests

Rail Contractor’s Former Lawyer Alleges ‘Illegal’ And ‘Dishonest’ Activity

CB: … A major Honolulu rail contractor is being sued by its former in-house counsel, who alleges he was fired after warning the company not to conduct “illegal activity” related to the multibillion-dollar transit project.

Bosko Petricevic worked at local construction firm Nan Inc. from March 18 to June 10, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Hawaii state court. During his brief stint there, the suit alleges, Petricevic warned Nan’s president, Patrick Shin, not to “double dip” and charge both the city and Nan’s subcontractors for the same rail-related claims.

The suit, brought against a company by one of its own former lawyers, alleges that Nan violated the state’s whistleblower protection act. It comes amid a sweeping federal criminal investigation into rail that now threatens to extend into Honolulu Hale. The project’s original $5 billion budget nearly doubled, largely due to construction claims and change orders.

Petricevic’s whistleblower suit alleges that Nan engaged in multiple illegal practices, although they’re not all explicitly tied to rail. It also alleges the former company attorney endured verbal and even some physical abuse by top Nan officials.

The firm’s former attorney says he learned that several Nan employees were being interviewed by the FBI, but that when Petricevic expressed concern he was told by the company’s vice president to mind his own business. The suit does not specify why the FBI approached Nan employees.

Specific to rail, Petricevic’s suit alleges that Nan looked to blame both the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and one of its subcontractors, Vancouver, Washington-based Thompson Metal Fab, for canopy-related problems that have plagued the rail line’s future west side stations….

The suit alleges that Petricevic was threatened by Shin and others not to put the issues that he encountered in writing. However, when Petricevic finally did write an email in June outlining his complaints of a hostile work environment, he was fired…

PDF: Complaint

read … Rail Contractor’s Former Lawyer Alleges ‘Illegal’ And ‘Dishonest’ Activity

Kahuku wind farm project rushed to grab soon-to-expire tax credit

SA: … A federal tax credit designed to encourage the construction of wind power is being phased out, and will no longer be available to those beginning construction at year’s end, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

AES Corp., developer of Na Pua Makani, the proposed wind farm generating protests over the last week, said it has met requirements necessary to secure the tax credits.

The U.S. production tax credit, which provides wind farm operators with a tax credit per kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity generation for the first 10 years a facility is in operation, was initially set to expire at the end of 2012. But it was renewed in 2013, offering a maximum credit of of 2.3 cents per KWh, with incrementally reduced rates available in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Facilities that begin construction after Dec. 31 will not be able to claim the production tax credit.

However, wind projects are eligible to receive the credit based on the year operation begins, or the year in which developers demonstrate 5% of total capital cost for the project has been spent and that construction has begun.

This qualification, known as “safe harboring,” is available as long as construction is completed no more than four calendar years after it has begun….

an environmental group has filed a claim with the state Public Utilities Commission seeking to invalidate the project’s 2014 power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co. Another group is appealing a state circuit judge ruling earlier this year affirming the state Board of Land and Natural Resources’ approval of the project’s habitat conservation plan.

State Sen. Gil Riviere (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua) said AES just wants to start making money despite concerns from the community.

“Wind developers have gotten an inordinate amount of tax credits,” he said. “The community has said no again and again for 10 years. … This is a reaction to government not listening to the people. This is regulators just ignoring the will of the public and just jamming it down their throat.”….

read … Kahuku wind farm project meets requirements for soon-to-expire tax credit, company says

City sending demand letter to Louis Kealoha for $250,000 severance payback (this will never be paid)

KHON: … The city is demanding Louis Kealoha pay back a $250,000 severance, now that the former police chief has pled guilty to federal felony bank fraud, and earlier was found guilty of conspiracy. But as Always Investigating found out, asking for the money back is one thing; getting it may be far more complicated.

The Kealohas owe victims even more in restitution than Louis owes the city in the severance refund. Even if the severance is paid back, it’s a sliver of the bill taxpayers have footed in the Kealohas legal episodes.

When Louis Kealoha stepped down as police chief in 2017 while under federal investigation, he retired with a quarter-million-dollar severance that came with a payback clause: return the money if convicted of a felony. He’s now got two — a jury convicted him of conspiracy in June for his role in framing his wife’s uncle, and this week Kealoha pled guilty to bank fraud in a deal to resolve a separate financial crime case.

Always Investigating asked the mayor’s office, when is the $250,000 coming back? A city spokesperson told us: “The Department of the Corporation Counsel (COR) believes Kealoha’s guilty plea triggers his obligation to repay the severance pay that was agreed upon by the Police Commission. COR will be sending a formal demand letter to Kealoha, and if the letter is not acted upon, the city will be filing a lawsuit seeking the repayment of the severance pay.”

But the Kealohas have long said they’re broke. They got taxpayer funded attorneys by saying they couldn’t afford to pay….

Katherine owes $165,000 in restitution to the siblings whose trust fund she was accused of raiding. Katherine, Louis and the other conspiracy co-convicts have to repay her grandmother, Florence Puana, $243,000 for alleged reverse mortgage fraud. Katherine’s uncle, Gerard Puana, is supposed to get $46,000 for suffering the mailbox theft framing….

read … City sending demand letter to Louis Kealoha for $250,000 severance payback

Teen who chained himself to gate says police used Taser on him at Kalaeloa protest

SA: … Wahilani’s nephew, Stetson “Mana” Morales, who chained himself by the neck to a gate on Sunday night said that older officers were watching over him and were respectful that night, but then two younger officers took over.

He said one of the younger officers started punching him in the ribs and back. The officer then asked if he wanted to walk to the police cruiser, but he declined and joked that the officer’s punches were soft, Morales said.

That’s when, Morales said, the officer pressed his Taser against his body and used it like a stun gun, giving him a jolt, noting that he still had the chains around his neck.

“It was painful and it hurt, but hearing everybody chanting and singing, it gave me more mana,” said Morales, who turned 19 on Wednesday.

He said it felt “like all your muscles engage and are flexing at the same time. You feel like passing out.”

The police took him to Queen’s Medical Center West, where he said he spoke to a doctor. “I just wanted to get bailed out, so I refused a checkup,” Morales said. He added that he has a condition that prevents his body from producing adrenaline.

Michelle Yu, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department, said she was unaware of any incident involving a Taser….

The latest arrests brought to 111 the total number of arrests since the protests started Oct. 17.

At about 3 a.m., with police cordoning off the driveway, the four trucks with turbine tower sections made their way up to the project site where they are being assembled….

SA: Kahuku turbine deliveries go smoothly as arrests ebb

read … Teen who chained himself to gate says police used Taser on him at Kalaeloa protest

Businesses along busy urban corridor prepare for a hit as rail construction moves east

HNN: … Crews have been relocating utilities along Dillingham Boulevard from Middle Street to Kaaahi Street since July 2018….

Instead of relocating utilities and taking a break before building the guideway, which would have taken four years, HART believes it can complete a substantial amount of the work in less than two years by having crews work during the day and at night.

The increased activity all along Dillingham Boulevard is expected to start shortly after New Year's Day, once HART revises its Traffic Management Plan and gets the required permits….

HART will provide a community update about the relocation work on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at Kapalama Elementary School….

SA: Rail construction on Dillingham delayed

read … Businesses along busy urban corridor prepare for a hit as rail construction moves east

P3 Is Yet Another Honolulu Rail Disaster

CB: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s inflated ridership projections of 121,000 daily trips will lead them to make promises of vast revenue for the private operator which will most likely not materialize, leaving the private partner short-changed, and coming back at the city for added compensation, as has happened elsewhere, described below.

Local bus ridership has gone down 20% in the past four years, and national transit ridership has also been decreasing, yet HART projected rail ridership numbers have not been adjusted accordingly….

Overestimation of ridership is a chronic problem with new transit systems, upsetting many P3 contracts, such as Sydney’s rail line from the airport to downtown built by the private Airport Link Co. Ridership was less than projected, forcing the company into receivership and exposing the government to costs of around $600 million, despite a surcharge by that company on top of normal fare. The government made a revised contract costing them another $100 million.

Sydney had a similar problem with a toll tunnel under the city, which has 30,000 daily vehicles instead of the 95,000 estimated, which caused the private operator to raise the tolls, receive an additional $400 million from the government, then go bankrupt….

London had similar problems expanding their metro system utilizing P3, with the private firm going bankrupt and the government stepping in to provide an additional $2.5 billion to complete the works.

The private Las Vegas Monorail Co. went bankrupt in 2010, unable to pay $650 million in loans, then it recovered, but now the company wants an added $150 million to extend the line 1 mile.

Indiana was paid $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease on a toll road by a private firm that was supposed to improve the road then collect all the tolls, but in a few years the firm went bust. Indiana already spent the money on other projects, so the road tolls were doubled.

Orange County, California, leased out a toll road, but due to poor performance spent a decade in court to buy it back for $207 million…..

read … P3 Is Yet Another Honolulu Rail Disaster

Communities Need A Real Voice On Big Projects

CB: … Projects may check all the required boxes and still fall short of addressing community concerns….

In the absence of leadership and meaningful engagement, communities have created their own spaces to demonstrate their discontent and opposition….

The bottom line is that the system is broken. It categorically fails to create a clear and meaningful role for communities, and until the decision-making process can be fixed so that it is both clear for developers and fair to communities, it’s unlikely the conflicts will end any time soon.

So rather than focus on resolving the conflicts around individual projects, we should be creating a better, more efficient, transparent system….

(Yes.  It’s called ‘Municipal Government’ and Hawaii is the ONLY state without it.  Really Obvious Question: Would an elected Kahuku Mayor and Council have approved the windfarm?  Clue: Their Neighborhood Board didn’t.)

read … Communities Need A Real Voice On Big Projects

Maui Enviros think they Can get a Lower Court to Snatch Lahaina Injection Wells Case Away from US Supreme Court, LOL!

CB: … In a legal opinion earlier this month by Deputy Corporation Counsel Peter Hanano, the department argues that the county code requires the council and mayor to both approve the terms in order to accept the settlement before them.

With the (regressive leftist controlled) council and mayor in a stalemate, the case has stayed on track to be heard next month by the Supreme Court.

But clarity could be coming soon to break through this legal logjam. (LOLROTF!)

Anthony Ranken, a Wailuku attorney representing the nonprofit Maui Tomorrow and Rep. Angus McKelvey (happy to pander to his constituents), plans to file a lawsuit Thursday to ask a judge to decide who has the power to settle the case.

He said the complaint will allege that the Corporation Counsel has a conflict of interest and cannot represent the county because the mayor and council are in disagreement. The county’s lawyers are supposed to represent the interests of the county as a whole, he said, not just one branch of government.

“It’s an important hole (Translation: Hail Mary pass) in the law, apparently,” Ranken said. “It’s something quite important in terms of the separation of powers.”

Ultimately, he said the relief they will seek is an order directing the mayor and Corporation Counsel to implement the terms of the settlement and withdraw the county’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

King said the judge may end up directing the council and mayor to each obtain outside legal counsel to work toward reaching a resolution. That could prove tricky.

The council can only hire special counsel with a two-thirds vote, which it may not have in this case. The settlement resolution was approved 5-4. It’s on the council’s agenda for Tuesday though….

read … Anything for the tourism industry

City to stop enforcing vacation rentals law at Waikiki tower whose owners sued

HNN: … The city has agreed to stop enforcing the new vacation rentals law on a Waikiki condo tower that it previously accused of having hundreds of illegal rentals.

Owners in the Waikiki Banyan were informed by their condo association that it could be two to three years until the city will enforce the law on their units ― most of which have been operating essentially as hotel rooms for years.

The condo association sued the city after Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 89 into law.

The measure set up a tougher enforcement system for vacation rentals, including a nearly islandwide ban and heavy fines for advertising online.

The Banyan is on a mauka corner on Kuhio Avenue, which puts it outside the resort district where short-term vacation rentals remain legal.

The city confirmed that it has agreed to let short-term rental owners in the Banyan continue to do business while the case is litigated, first in a city appeal process and then potentially back to court.

A number of owners in the Banyan had received violation notices from the city, which the city will withdraw….

read … City to stop enforcing vacation rentals law at Waikiki tower whose owners sued

Changes for traffic tickets

KGI: … Until a couple weeks ago, drivers on Kauai who either didn’t have a valid license or an auto insurance policy could get penalized twice — once for being uninsured or unlicensed and again for not being able to prove otherwise.

That policy changed on Oct. 8 when county Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar sent a memo to the Kauai Police Department in order to set new guidelines for handling these types of traffic violations. He announced that his office will be dismissing criminal charges against uninsured or unlicensed drivers if they were already ticketed for the offense under a lesser infraction….

read ... Changes for traffic tickets

Hawaii Open Meetings Law Leaves Some Neighborhood Boards Befuddled

CB: … Rules determine who is permitted to speak with who and under what terms. But interpretations differ…. 

ILind: Sunshine confusion surrounds neighborhood boards

read … Hawaii Open Meetings Law Leaves Some Neighborhood Boards Befuddled

How HMSA Killed off Expensive Cancer Patient

SA: … A lawsuit filed by Patricia Adams claiming that the state’s largest health insurer treated her husband Brent Adams unfairly and in bad faith when HMSA refused to cover a second stem cell procedure went to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which ruled that the case must be retried in a lower court.

In 2005, then 40-year-old Brent Adams was diagnosed with stage 3 multiple myeloma, a rare, aggressive bone marrow cancer. His doctors recommended he undergo back-to-back stem cell transplants for the best chance of survival: the first, a transplant of his own stem cells and the second, a transplant from a sibling donor several months later.

HMSA paid for the first procedure but denied coverage of the second. After a lengthy appeals process HMSA was ordered by the state Insurance Division to pay for the second transplant in 2007. Adams died about a year later after fighting the insurer for two years to cover his treatment. HMSA declined to comment on pending litigation.

“Had HMSA timely informed them that Adams’ plan did not cover the second-phase transplant, he would have undertaken a different treatment, entered a different clinical trial or raised money for the second-phase transplant,” said Tred Eyerly, director at Honolulu law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, representing Patricia Adams. “By the time HMSA did tell him, it was too late for an effective second-phase transplant.”…

(Life or Death IQ Test: See how this works?)

Related: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii

read … Court told to retry widow’s claim against HMSA

PC Panic as UH Faculty Gets Whiter, More Japanese, and More Chinese

CB: … the percentage of non-white faculty is increasing, going from 44% in 2013 to about 50% in 2018…Some Asian communities are overrepresented among UH Manoa’s faculty as well. About 8.5% of the students were of Japanese descent in fall 2018 compared with more than 13% of the faculty. Chinese students comprised about 7% of the student body and 11% of the faculty….

(Clue:.  Maybe UH should stop ghettoizing other ethnicities into identity politics traps.)

read … Most UH Students Are People Of Color But Their Teachers Are Mainly White

Bones found on lofty California peak may be remains of lost Japanese internee

AP: … People were allowed to leave Manzanar and the population had dropped by half, said Brian Niiya of Densho, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Japanese internment.

Many stayed behind, however, because their homes had been taken or they feared racism and violence upon their return.

“It was kind of a black comedy,” Niiya said. “They were trying to close the camps and people didn’t want to leave. They heard how bad things were on the outside.”

For Matsumura’s group, the 11-mile hike included ascending about 6,000 feet (1,825 meters) over the Sierra crest at Shepherd Pass. They then had to negotiate a trail-less undulating plateau littered with sharp granite boulders between a chain of lakes below Mount Williamson….

read … Bones found on lofty California peak may be remains of lost Japanese internee

ACLU: Homeless Cookers May Lose their Lab Supplies in Sweeps

HPR: … Wookie Kim, a staff attorney at the Hawaii American Civil Liberties Union explained that these types of enforcement efforts can negatively impact the homeless population.

“These sweeps risk seriously harming people who are houseless because the city and county might be throwing away things that people need to cook clean sleep and survive,” he said.  (Yeah.  Like their meth pipes.)

read … Honolulu Cleans Waianae Park, Sweeps 10 Homeless Encampments

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