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Saturday, February 01, 2020
February 1, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:17 PM :: 962 Views

FAA employee blocked from inspecting Kauai tour chopper prior to crash

Kym Pine Leads 2020 Mayoral Race in Fundraising

Stop Taxing Healthcare

Hawaii Most Expensive State for Car Owners

Honolulu 79th Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals 

Economic Impact of Immigration by State -- Hawaii 17th 

HB1676: Red Light Scameras -- Bill Passes Committee

Cameras can catch cars that run red lights, but that doesn’t make streets safer 

Multiple jobs. Doubling up. Hawaii adults say they’re doing it all and still struggling

HNN: … Seven in 10 Hawaii adults are struggling with their financial health and more than half say their spending equals or exceeds their income, according to a new survey that underscores just how broadly the state’s high cost of living is affecting families….

The study, conducted by the Hawaii Financial Health Pulse initiative, also found:

More than a third of Hawaii adults say they don’t have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses.

One in 5 residents say they struggle to pay for their mortgage or rent, and 27% worried that their food would run out before they got enough money to buy more.

Almost a quarter of survey respondents who are employed say they work multiple jobs to make ends meet, far higher than the national average…

Related: Hawaii: 69% Struggle Financially

read … Multiple jobs. Doubling up. Hawaii adults say they’re doing it all and still struggling

Megan Kau Leads Honolulu Prosecutor’s Race In Campaign Cash

CB: … Honolulu attorney Megan Kau raised more money than her opponents vying to be Honolulu’s next prosecuting attorney, campaign spending reports show.

The former deputy prosecutor turned defense attorney is a first-time candidate. She took in more than 200 donations totaling over $123,000 during the most recent reporting period, July 1 to Dec. 31. She spent $39,856 so far and has $83,275 left over.

Her campaign donations bested those of Steve Alm, a former prosecutor, retired judge and probation advocate whose long career has afforded him solid name recognization among voters. Alm took in donations totaling $102,825 during the six-month period, spent $63,296 and had $39,526 left in his campaign account at the end of the year….

At a debate earlier this week, Kau disagreed with her opponents on several points. Unlike her competitors, Kau said she is against decriminalizing drug possession because failing to charge low-level crimes has led to more severe problems.

She was also the only candidate to oppose abolishing the cash bail system and reiterated throughout the conversation that the prosecutor’s job is to enforce the laws already in place….

Voters this year will also decide whether the office, which currently has no term limits, should be limited to two consecutive terms.

Jan 29: Honolulu Prosecutor Debate: Only Megan Kau Pledges to Keep Criminal Suspects Locked up 

read … Defense Attorney Kau Leads Honolulu Prosecutor’s Race In Campaign Cash

Caldwell Raises Nearly $300K For 2022 Governor’s Race

CB: … Caldwell reported raising $280,000 between July and December in his 2022 bid to be governor, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

That far outpaces some of the only other candidates who have shown an interest in running for governor this far out. Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Mufi Hanneman raised $45,000 and $4,500, respectively, over the same six-month period.

Caldwell spent close to $60,000 in the same period, $33,000 of which went to food and drinks for a Dec. 9 campaign event at the Waialae Country Club.

Caldwell’s report on campaign donations between July and December 2019 reads like a “who’s who” in Honolulu politics. He’s accrued thousands from top law firms, construction companies and in the business community.

He’s also hauled in over $27,000 combined from 13 different city employees, many who hold director positions in Caldwell’s current administration….

He’s also gotten campaign support from two state employees in Gov. David Ige’s administration including Rona Suzuki, the director of the Department of Taxation, and Linda Chu Takayama, Ige’s chief of staff.

He’s brought in $14,000 from six managers at R.M. Towill Corporation, an engineering firm, and $9,500 from employees at The Resort Group, which has developed projects like the Ko Olina Resort.

Jeffrey Stone, founder of The Resort Group, gave Caldwell $8,000, which is $2,000 more than state law allows for gubernatorial races. Caldwell’s campaign reports show he gave the excess amounts back.

He also had to return $4,000 to Leighton Mau, owner of the Waikiki Business Plaza.

Caldwell got $16,000 combined from executives at Kobayashi, Sugita and Goda, a law firm, and the Kobayashi Group LLC, a development company. Both are run by men named Bert Kobayashi who have been a force in campaign donations for years….

Green’s $45,000 came from donations from physicians, several lobbyists and folks in the health industry. In 2018, Green, a Big Island doctor, was propelled into his current role with over $1 million worth of support from the building industry….

read … Caldwell Raises Nearly $300K For 2022 Governor’s Race

How Young Brothers Hides Money in its Corporate Superstructure

TGI: … Young Brothers is actually part of Saltchuk Resources Inc., a huge conglomerate based in Seattle that has operations in air freight (think Aloha Air Cargo), marine transportation, logistics and energy distribution. It does business in Hawai‘i, Alaska, Florida, Puerto Rico and across the Mainland. All of this information is public.

Saltchuk bought Young Brothers in 1999, but it’s a little more complicated than that. In 2014 Saltchuk made Young Brothers a wholly owned subsidiary of one of its other wholly owned subsidiaries, Foss Maritime Co., which Saltchuk acquired in 1987. Foss owns and operates more than 60 harbor and ocean-going tugs, including four assigned to Young Brothers, along with barges.

This complexity is relevant because, as Young Brothers has pressed its case over the last few months for a 34% statewide rate increase, it has described the situation in strictly local terms. That increase would generate an additional $27 million in annual revenue, the company estimated.

For example, a company rate increase fact sheet says the hike it seeks is justified by continuing losses. Young Brothers says it last made money in 2017, then lost $11.4 million in 2018 and $9.6 million in 2019. The company projects losses of $12.3 million this year. “This situation is clearly unsustainable for Young Brothers,” the company says.

Where this gets murky, though, is in trying to bore down into how Young Brothers figures in the larger profit-loss profile of Saltchuk. So I asked the company for information on its overall financial results and whether it breaks out results for its individual components, figuring that if Young Brothers was willing to disclose the magnitude of its claimed losses, Saltchuk would also be forthcoming about the bigger picture.

Not so. In a statement responding to questions about Saltchuk’s financial results, including revenue and profit or loss, Saltchuk said: “As a privately held company, we are not in a position to share much of the information you have requested.” Actually, the company responded to none of the questions. It raises yet another question: If Young Brothers will identify specific alleged profit-and-loss figures to the public, why won’t Saltchuk do the same? Seeing that big picture would provide a more-accurate image of how costs are allocated for the various Saltchuk components….

Related: Young Brothers Rate Hike Proposal Based on Fraudulent Numbers

read … Young Brothers rate-increase request deserves scrutiny

Deaf advocates seek role in governing Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind

SA: … A bill to ensure that deaf educators and community members are involved in oversight of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind passed its first hurdle at the Legislature on Friday.

House Bill 2421 would create a board of trustees — which would include people with expertise in deaf education and American Sign Language, as well as a parent and a graduate — to independently govern the public school.

A dozen deaf advocates pushed for the change at a hearing of the Committee on Human Services and Homelessness, which passed the measure. The school on Leahi Avenue, with 62 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, is overseen by the Honolulu District Office of the Department of Education under the direction of a complex-area superintendent.

Like a Hawaiian language immersion school, the school thrives when led by administrators fluent in American Sign Language, which is the first language of its students, according to written testimony from Brian Nakamoto, a teacher and alumnus.

“The problem here is our current Department of Education does not have a clear understanding of how bilingual-bicultural curriculum of American Sign Language and English work in our deaf school,” he wrote.

“We did have a deaf principal that worked with us from 2016 to 2019, we saw a golden age at HSDB. During that golden age, we assembled our robotics team, secured the spot as the co- host for West Regionals Academic Bowl competition to be hosted here in Honolulu for the first time, saw growth in our students’ Lexile and … academic performance levels, improved the morale among students and staff, and many more.”

But that principal, Angel Ramos, was abruptly transferred to a different school Aug. 1 and replaced by a principal who does not know sign language. The decision provoked an outcry and public rallies on Ramos’ behalf by members of the school community.

Under his leadership the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind had received national accreditation for the first time in its history, on July 1, through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges….

Related:  HB 2421 would create a Board of Trustees for the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind

read … Deaf advocates seek role in governing Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind

Mother of probation violator brutally beaten in OCCC joins lawmakers in seeking answers, oversight

HNN: … Borling-Salas was beaten 14 days earlier at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, but she says no one from the Department of Public Safety reached out to her, it was other inmates who called to tell her about the attack they said happened in Annex 1 of the jail….

The last communication she had with her son, he sent her a Christmas card.

But she was confused. The envelop was stamped December 16, two days after he was beaten unconscious. Another issue with the card, the return address seemed altered, like the original writing was erased. It showed it came from Module 11, but she insists he was in Annex 1.

Salas says her son was in Annex 1 but expressed concern for his safety and was put in protective custody. She doesn’t know why he was sent back to Annex 1, and without cameras or any other inmates brave enough to come forward, the people who fatally beat him might never be caught.

read … Mother of probation violator brutally beaten in OCCC joins lawmakers in seeking answers, oversight

HB2507: Raise Hawaii’s Smoking Age From 21 To 25

CB: … House Bill 2507 would forbid the sale or furnishing of tobacco and tobacco products to persons under 25 of age.

(Office: I saw you smoking that funny cigarette!  Suspect: Its OK, its just marijuana.)

The current age is 21.

Electronic smoking devices would be included under the proposed legislation.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Richard Creagan and John Mizuno, points to a Duke University study on nicotine that shows “a similarly harmful effect on developing brains as chlorpyrifos.” …

(One hysteria leads to another.)

read … Bill: Raise Hawaii’s Smoking Age From 21 To 25

City: We want to expand appointment-only bulky item pickup islandwide

HNN: … The city launched its appointment-only system in June 2019 under a pilot program that extends from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai and includes Waikiki….

“We are confident what we currently have in place is what we want to expand islandwide,” said city Department of Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina, in a news release Friday.

“We are working on those logistics, and when we have what we want in place, we’ll alert the rest of the island.”…

News Release: City continues bulky item pilot in Metro Honolulu

read … City: We want to expand appointment-only bulky item pickup islandwide

Pigs out of control on Maunakea

HTH: … A pair of bills in the state Legislature aims to remove limits on hunting feral pigs on Maunakea in order to protect plant life.

The bills would allow anyone with a valid hunting license to hunt for wild pigs on Maunakea without any bag limit and with the use of dogs….

Both measures were co-introduced by several Big Island senators and representatives on the behalf of Mark Hanson, a Mountain View resident whose sandalwood trees on Maunakea have been devastated by uncontrolled feral pig populations roaming the mountain.

“I’ve refused a $130,000 grant from the state because the pigs keep killing my trees; there’s no point,” Hanson said….

Current Department of Land and Natural Resources rules only allow pig hunters in the Maunakea Game Management Area to take only one pig per season and do not permit the use of dogs. As currently written, the bills would remove all bag limits and permit the use of dogs within a roughly 11,300-acre area comprising all state-managed lands on Maunakea….

Hanson said pigs also have made it inside fences surrounding the Maunakea watershed and cannot escape.

In addition to the changes in hunting regulations, the bills also would set aside an undetermined amount of money to install one-way pig gates in the watershed fences to allow the pigs to leave….

“To leave them unmitigated up there just leaves us with the world’s biggest pigpen,” Hanson said….

read … Pigs out of control on Maunakea

Bodycams and Kevlar for EMS workers attacked by homeless lunatics?

HNN: … Two Honolulu ambulance workers are recovering after a homeless woman they were trying to help allegedly turned on them.

The incident happened Thursday afternoon, when medics responded to Aloha Tower for reports of an unresponsive woman near Pier 6.

First responders found Bobbi Ballhorn and loaded her into an ambulance.

As the rescue crew was preparing to head to the hospital, police sources say the 46-year-old suddenly attacked an EMT ― sinking her teeth into her arm and leaving her bloody.

When a paramedic jumped in to help, she suffered a busted lip after being punched in the face.

Christopher Sloman, the acting chief of Honolulu Emergency Services, said his personnel are the victims of violence almost every day. They’re swung and pushed around.

“It’s concerning. We need to protect our people,” he said.

While most of the incidents go unreported, last year at least eight cases led to medical treatment and or worker’s compensation claims.

All of those incidents had one thing in common: The suspect was either intoxicated or suffering from mental illness.

“These issues: mental illness and substance abuse. They’ve always been there. They’re just more prominent right now,” Sloman said.

The violence is prompting conversations about what can be done to keep EMS crews safer.

One option being discussed is the use of body cameras….

Sloman says the agency is also looking at whether crews should be equipped with bulletproof vests.

“The trend with what we’re seeing with violence not only locally but nationally as well is maybe this is something we really have to consider,” he said….

read … 2 EMS workers left bloody after woman allegedly attacked them inside ambulance

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