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Saturday, November 23, 2019
November 23, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:17 PM :: 512 Views

Maintenance Backlog? DoE Facilities Branch Administrators Build themselves Houses, Apartment Complex

Road Map to Prosperity

Auditor: AG Special Funds 'Do not meet Criteria'

Board of Taxation Review Seeks Volunteers

Two Jailed in Hawaii Tax Fraud Scam 

Maui Windfarm: BLNR Approves Plan to Kill 345% More Bats, 147% More Nene

With All Eyes on Mauna Kea, OHA Hands Danner Big Bag of Money

Office of Hawaiian Affairs critic wins right to rebut accusations

SA:  … At Thursday’s board meeting, however, Akina said he was being treated unfairly, having never been told about what specific statements of his were untrue and not given a chance to defend himself.

Akina called the reference to misleading and untrue statements “a very serious allegation.”

“It doesn’t merely say that I had a different opinion about the (Clifton­LarsonAllen LLP) audit, or different belief, or that I criticized the board. It declares that I have committed wrongdoing,” Akina said.

“My fellow trustees, this is not how we should treat each other,” he said.

Akina proposed striking the sentence referring to the “misleading and untrue statements” from the committee’s final report.

Instead, the trustees ended up voting to discuss their options in closed session before emerging to table the report and reestablish the committee.

Akina abstained from the vote to reinstate the panel, saying later he was unsure immediately what to make of it.

“It’s no secret I’ve spoken out about my concerns about the progress of the independent audit of OHA. And now it seems I’m under attack for making statements that are now being investigated as being the basis for disloyalty,” Akina told reporters afterward.

After the meeting, OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado said a majority of trustees wanted to give Akina a chance to defend himself.

The four-trustee panel felt hamstrung in that regard because the state’s Sunshine Law prohibits more than four trustees from meeting in a Permitted Interaction Group setting.

But Machado said OHA received an opinion from the state Office of Information Practices saying it was OK to allow a fifth trustee to appear before the committee, as long as that trustee is the subject of the investigation.

The board’s code of conduct outlines standards of behavior and is designed to help the nine trustees function as a “collegial unit” and to “speak with one voice.” It requires trustees to support a decision once it is made by the board….

During public testi­mony, retired University of Hawaii law professor Randy Roth told the board he believes the code of conduct policy violates Akina’s free speech rights.

Roth called a rule that forbids members from speaking out “bad policy” that reduces transparency and accountability…. 

VIDEO:

read  … Office of Hawaiian Affairs critic wins right to rebut accusations

SHOPO Support Taints Alm Candidacy

HNN: … For the first time in decades, the race for city prosecutor is expected to draw a lot of attention and a large field of qualified candidates.

And already, one candidate is taking on a union supporting her opponent.

Megan Kau, a former deputy prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney criticized police union SHOPO for throwing its support behind retired state Judge Steve Alm.

Kau said SHOPO was supportive for disgraced ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha “until the end.”

“SHOPO came out and said we support him and we don’t want him to leave,” Kau said. "The taxpaying people of Honolulu are sick and tired of that, they’re tired of the old boy network.”

SHOPO leaders stood with Alm when he announced his candidacy Thursday….

“I’m in court fighting against these prosecutors and I see who is good, who is ethical, and who is not," (defense attorney) Kau said….

Big Q: Will electing a new prosecutor make a difference to the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office?

read … Tainted

Environmental group challenges HECO's contract with Kahuku windfarm developer

KITV: … Environmental group Life of the Land filed a motion with the Public Utilities Commission to invalidate the agreement that allows Na Pua Makani developer AES to sell the wind generated by its new turbines at Kahuku to HECO.

The PUC heard oral arguments from involved parties today, but they weren't the only ones with a stake in this.

Protesters of the controversial project on the North Shore took to the streets of downtown Honolulu and into the PUC hearing with the message that they want a say in what happens in their community.

"They waived the competitive bidding process. The Na Pua Makani project electricity rate is 7 times the going rate of wind energy and that's a concern," said Sunny Unga, Kahuku resident….

"The PUC did not evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions and the reliance on fossil fuels at all," said Lance Collins, attorney for Life of the Land. "It just wasn't done and the statute requires that it's done. Last May, the Hawaii Supreme Court in a Life of the Land decision said it says it in the statute, you guys have to do it and they invalidated decision on the Big Island because they failed to do that."….

SA: Silent protest over Kahuku wind farm made to state commission

read … Environmental group challenges HECO's contract with Kahuku windfarm developer

HART’s Last Original Board Member Hasn’t Left As Planned

CB: … Damien Kim announced his departure five months ago, but the City Council can’t find a qualified successor (willing to grab a hold of this hot potato)….

Whenever Kim does manage to depart, it’ll mark the end of an era. He’s the local rail agency’s last remaining original board member going back to its 2011 inception.

“The Council welcomes and encourages qualified individuals to contact the Chairman’s office,” McCoy added Thursday, referring to Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson.

The state Senate, meanwhile, has had better success filling its vacant HART board seats.

Dean Hazama attended his first rail meeting Thursday. He works as a business management officer for the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. He previously served on the City Planning Commission and the Mililani Mauka/Launani Valley Neighborhood Board, according to his statement of qualifications.

Until Hazama joined, the state Senate’s two HART board seats had sat vacant for about a year. It still has another seat to fill….

read … HART’s Last Original Board Member Hasn’t Left As Planned

Step One in Maui Council Two-Step Plan for Property Tax Hikes

MN: … the Maui County Council approved a pair of property tax reform bills that will change tax classifications and set the framework for new tiered rates.

The council, saying the move will make real property taxes fairer, voted 7-1 to give final approval to the measures during its regular meeting Friday, with Council Member Riki Hokama absent and excused.

“I think this first step with the tiers, it’s really a step to help the regular people‚” said Council Member Tamara Paltin….

(IQ Test: This is part of a plan to raise property taxes?  T/F)

read … Council OKs property tax reform bills

Volunteers Step up to Fix City Parks

SA: … So far, about a half-dozen of these entities have stepped up to help with maintenance. An agreement has been struck, for example, with the YMCA of Honolulu to provide $1.7 million for improvements at Kamamalu Neighborhood Park, next to the Nuuanu Y. That paid for a new restroom, 150-stall parking lot (with meters to deter use by nearby downtown office workers), restriping of the old lot, landscaping and better lighting. This does make sense: The Nuuanu branch uses the park about half the year, YMCA officials said.

And at Aala Park, American Savings Bank did open its new $100 million headquarters in Chinatown, and as part of that launch early this year, conducted community cleanups and a park upgrade. The park restroom was renovated, the skate area was repainted, the basketball court was resurfaced.

Those investments clearly benefit the partners, as well as the public. Rotary Club of Honolulu, building the pocket park in Waikiki out of an old scrub lot? That’s a logical community project for the service organization, based nearby….

read … Editorial: Public spaces, private help

Janet Jackson explains why the TMT protest is part of her Hawaii concerts

HNN: … “To be able to want to take this land -- this sacred land -- it’s wrong. It’s not right at all,” she told Hawaii News Now. “I stand with them.”

Jackson explained her motivation came from Hawaii dancers who have performed with her.

“There are a few Hawaiians that have been in my camp for a while, for a good while. More than 15 years. And they explained to me the situation, and I was floored.”

Some of Jackson’s dancers have worked with 24-VII Dance Force, based in Kaneohe. She had a night off Friday from her concert series in Honolulu, and made a surprise appearance at one of their classes at the Stan Sheriff Center at UH-Manoa. She was impressed with what she saw….

read … Janet Jackson explains why the TMT protest is part of her Hawaii concerts

Hilo’s jail is the most crowded at 85 percent over capacity

HNN: … Hawaii Community Correctional Center was originally designed to house 206 inmates. But current numbers far surpass that at 420 inmates — which makes the jail more than 85-percent over capacity.

“We normally have about three per cell. Maybe the larger cells, we may have up to four,” said HCCC Warden Peter Cabreros.

Since the overcrowding is so extreme at HCCC, in addition to cells, the jail is also comprised of large open rooms where inmates all bunk together.

The Waianuenue building, where sentence inmates are housed, is supposed to hold 40. However Friday’s headcount was more than double that at 85. Therefore, most inmates sleep on the floor.

Warden Cabreros said another unit also has a mixture of both male and female inmates because of the limited space….

“Demolished the old jail to make room for a new housing unit within the next few years,” Cabreros said.

The new housing project in would add 48 more beds. Cabreros said it won’t solve all their problems, but it will help alleviate some tension.

There are currently 172 inmates at Hilo’s prison, Kulani Correctional Facility, although it can hold up to 200. There is also a full staff on board….

read … Hilo’s jail is the most crowded at 85 percent over capacity

Soft on Crime: Judge Finds Way to Release Three Lava-Related Criminals

HTH: … A 51-year-old Opihikao man was acquitted of robbing two men who were photographing lava during last year’s Kilauea volcano eruption.

After a so-called stipulated facts bench trial on Oct. 2, Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto ruled Edward Wilson suffered from temporary mental incapacity and wasn’t legally responsible for his actions….

A similar verdict was rendered in an unrelated burglary case that took place in Leilani Estates during last year’s lava emergency.

Nakamoto on June 7 acquitted Alexandru Stingu-Dragomir, the first individual charged with burglary during the state of emergency, also ruling he wasn’t legally responsible for his actions because of temporary mental incapacity….

And in a third case during the lava emergency unrelated to either of the above cases, a misdemeanor conviction was erased from the record of a then-62-year-old Kapoho man who drove at a high rate of speed through a lava checkpoint on Government Beach Road on June 2, 2018.

Allan K. Bartels pleaded no contest Nov. 5, 2018…

read … Three lava emergency-related criminal cases resolved

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