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Thursday, January 02, 2020
January 2, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:18 AM :: 618 Views

Hawaii Least Depressed State

Star-Adv: Office of Hawaiian Affairs should comply with audit

SA Editorial: …The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which has been under scrutiny in recent years over management of its resources, has pushed up against the state Office of the Auditor in the latest inquiry into its operations.

Now the Legislature, which mandated that performance audit, and OHA beneficiaries, who deserve more transparency from those handling their assets, need to push back….

There’s no allowance for shielding information from the auditor through redaction, as OHA has done in this case. Kondo had the option of preparing the audit based on the information he had, stating its limitations.

He opted instead, correctly, to press the issue by concluding instead that he was prevented from doing a reputable job….

OHA should reconsider its redactions to the auditor. In the statement, Machado and Lee cited attorney-client privilege for the information not being disclosed in executive session minutes. The trustees will have to defend that decision to lawmakers, who should summon them, along with the auditor, to the state Capitol where each side will make its defense.

The auditor seems to have the stronger case. The call for an audit did not arise in a vacuum. There is already considerable concern about OHA among lawmakers and the public….

The state is accountable to taxpayers for the money provided for the operation of OHA. Simply waving off direct legislative oversight of LLCs by the state’s own auditor, would be derelict.

The ones who should feel most concerned are the Native Hawaiian beneficiaries of the trust. They are being left in the dark by all of this, which is intolerable. It’s time to turn on the lights at OHA….

AP: State suspends Hawaiian Affairs audit over records access

read … Beset Office of Hawaiian Affairs should comply with audit

New laws you could see in the 2020 Legislative Session

KHON: … “The food tax credit may be $110, and so we could look at that going up higher. To really help people, we could look at a thousand dollar credit for low-income renters,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Majority Leader.

Another problem she said they’re hoping to address is how to help people in our state with substance abuse issues.

“[Things like] more funding for outreach, making sure that the systems that we have in place for people can you know go through that due process, but also [getting] the help that they need if they’re incapable of taking care of themselves,” said Rep. Au Belatti.

Along with handling substance abuse, lawmakers are also looking at what can be done to stop youth vaping.

“The first is a flavor ban, so banning all flavors including menthol in the state of Hawaii. The second is to essentially put a tax on vaping products,” said Rep. Scot Matayoshi, who represents Kaneohe.

He also wants to increase the fine for minors caught with an e-cigarette, and add penalties such as smoking cessation classes and community service. The current fine is only $10….

Additional issues lawmakers say they want to address include the high price of prescription drugs and access to healthcare….

read … New laws you could see in the 2020 Legislative Session

Commission Begins Seeking Ways to Let Lots and Lots of Criminals Back out onto Hawaii’s Streets

SA: … A new state watchdog agency will oversee the state Department of Public Safety and has the power to conduct investigations, obtain internal documents and conduct unannounced inspections of Hawaii’s jails and prisons. The Hawaii Correctional Oversight Commission, made up of five appointees, has scheduled its first public meeting for Jan. 16.

The commission is made up of two former leaders of the Public Safety Department. Ted Sakai, who was appointed to the commission by Gov. David Ige, worked for the department for nearly three decades, including serving as its director. Martha Torney, who was appointed by House Speaker Scott Saiki, previously served as the department’s deputy director of administration.

The commission also includes retired judges Ronald Ibarra, who was appointed by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, and (Broken Trust figure) Michael Town, who was appointed by Senate President Ron Kouchi.

Mark Patterson, administrator of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility, who was appointed by Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Colette Machado, also serves on the panel.

The Correctional Oversight Commission was created, in part, because of ongoing problems with inmate suicides, violence and sexual assaults within the state’s correctional system, and the Department of Public Safety’s lack of transparency.

(Nice story but its just the cover story.)

The commission is tasked with transforming the state’s correctional system from one focused on rehabilitating rather than punishing inmates.

(Translation: Let lots and lots of criminals back out onto the streets.)

Sakai said he expects the commission to take a hard look at the processes in place for returning inmates to society as a way of trying to reduce the state’s inmate population in the long run.

(Translation: Let lots and lots of criminals back out onto the streets.)

Hawaii has high rates of recidivism among its inmate population.

(And they are about to go even higher.)

The law also expedites the bail process by requiring risk assessments and bail reports to be completed within three days of someone being incarcerated.

(Translation: Let lots and lots of criminals back out onto the streets.)

It also requires that inmates be able to post bail seven days a week and that correctional facilities continually review pretrial detainees to see whether they should be eligible for pretrial release, among other reforms.

(Translation: Let lots and lots of criminals back out onto the streets.)

(Fortunately,) The commission has gotten off to a slow start. By now, it should have a salaried oversight coordinator in place, chosen from three names sent to the governor. However, the commission hasn’t begun reviewing possible candidates. The full-time oversight coordinator will be in charge of adopting rules, carrying out investigations and filing monthly reports with the commission and will play a key role in the success of the agency….

Flashback 2004:: The FBI targeted state criminal court Judge Michael Town for investigation of possible corruption in 2004, according to a document that was unsealed yesterday in the racketeering and murder trial of Ethan "Malu" Motta, and Rodney Joseph Jr."

Flashback 1999: Judge Town Saves Dickie Wong

read … New state laws focus on justice system, guns, marijuana

Rents Are Dipping In Hawaii, At Least For Some People

CB: …Life may be getting slightly easier for Hawaii’s renters because apartment rents have flattened and are declining in many parts of Oahu, two new housing studies show.

The military’s calculations for what is called the Basic Allowance for Housing, the amount needed by a service member to rent an apartment or house on Oahu, found that rental prices have fallen 3% in the past few years, according to Defense Department spokesmen.

It’s a contrast with the average figures for the mainland, where rents have risen about 2.8%, military analysts reported.

The decline follows a general flattening in rents in Hawaii for the four previous years, according to the Defense Department. The military tracks the numbers nationwide, compiling the data mid-year, with a final analysis released in mid-December….

The military’s analysis echoes findings by Locations, a Honolulu-based real estate services company, which is reporting that rental rates have dipped for some kinds of housing in parts of Honolulu county. In particular, rental rates are flat or down in Ala Moana, Kakaako, Ewa, Hawaii Kai and Waikiki, Locations reported.

In Ala Moana/Kakaako, for example, the median rent was $3,000 in 2015 but $2,750 in 2019. In Kahala, it fell from $2,300 in 2015 to $2,250 in 2019. In Waikiki, the median rent was flat at around $2,000 from 2015 to the end of 2019, Locations reported.

Slight increases, of about 5%, were reported in scattered markets, including Nuuanu, Kailua, Kaneohe and Mililani.

read … Rents Are Dipping In Hawaii, At Least For Some People

$2.5M Hilo facility for homeless gets Three People into Permanent Housing

HTH:  … More than two months after accepting its first clients, Keolahou — an emergency homeless shelter established at the old Hilo Memorial Hospital — is a refuge for the Big Island’s homeless men.

Since October, 46 individuals have been served, and the shelter, which currently has 25 available beds, has an average occupancy of 22.

Three people who have been in the shelter have been placed in permanent housing.….

Efforts to convert the former and aging hospital, located near Rainbow Falls, into a shelter began earlier this year after Hawaii County was awarded $2.5 million in Ohana Zone funding from the state for the project.

In 2018, state legislators appropriated $30 million to establish at least three Ohana Zone sites on Oahu, and one each on Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai….

The shelter will eventually have 50 beds….

“Medical care is especially critical, as we have beds reserved for those who are discharged from Hilo Medical Center but have no place to recover,”…

read … New Hilo facility for homeless off to a good start, according to nonprofit

Nicotine user? Hawaii U-Haul won't hire you starting in February

Starting in February, U-Haul says it will start declining any applicants who are active nicotine users.

The nicotine-free hiring policy goes into effect in 21 states, including Hawaii, on the first day of the month….

U-Haul says people applying for jobs on those states will see statements about the nicotine-free policy and, in states where testing is allowed, the applicants must consent to nicotine screening.

The hiring change is part of a "Healthier You" program. For more information, click here.

Meanwhile on Maui: Police seek help in locating families of unclaimed bodies

read … But will they hire Cannabis users?

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