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Tuesday, February 04, 2020
February 4, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:43 PM :: 978 Views

Iowa Results: Gabbard Wins 9 Votes Statewide

Fireworks Prove Honolulu Port Security Lacking

SB2237: Sen Baker Blocks Abortion Survivor Protection Act

Can changing a federal maritime law help lower Hawaii's cost of living? U.S. Rep. Ed Case thinks so

Need $2.3M to Retire in Hawaii

Video: Solving Hawaii's Fiscal Crisis

Hawaii DoE Touts AP Test Scores

House-Senate Resolutions call for (yet another) Blue Ribbon Commission on Hawaiian Issues

$17M Wasted: Caldwell scraps plans for Blaisdell Center face-lift, citing rail cost uncertainty

SA: … The decision is a “disappointing” development because “we fully believe that major renovations are needed in order for the Blaisdell to best serve the community and to attract world class events and attractions to Honolulu for our local residents,” Caldwell said in a release.

“The city has determined that it is not prepared to go forward with the major renovation of the Neal Blaisdell Center at this time,” Caldwell said in a release. “Given that the final construction cost is yet unknown for the last 4.16 miles of our rail system and the city’s financial responsibilities for the operations of the upcoming rail service, in addition to a new administration and City Council starting in less than one year, we decided that it is a logical time to pause the project.”

Instead, “for the short term, we plan to now focus on addressing some much needed deferred maintenance, and to keep the Blaisdell as fully operational as possible during the maintenance projects….”

PBN: In 2018 it hired Ernst & Young to shepherd it through the P3 process and had been working since at least 2015 with a design team that included Aecom, Honolulu-based WCIT Architecture, Kapolei-based Pacific AquaScapes, the New York office of Norwegian architecture firm Snohetta and international design firm Gensler.

HNN: After spending $17M, city shelves pricey renovation plans for Blaisdell Center

CB: City Stops Planned $700 Million Blaisdell Renovation

read … Caldwell scraps plans for Blaisdell Center face-lift, citing rail cost uncertainty

Hawaii Libraries Could Pack Early Learning Classrooms in with Homeless Mentally Ill—It’ll be Great!

HPR: … The Hawaii State Public Library System operates about 50 libraries across the state with an annual budget of roughly $40 million. While many of the libraries serve as community hubs, the system is riding several trends that are impacting its future, according to a 2014-2018 strategic plan. These include advances in digital media and technologies, heightened competition, demographic changes and financial constraints.

Aldrich also said in a 2018 Honolulu Magazine interview that library patrons who are mentally ill or homeless are more prevalent. So locating childcare classrooms in libraries could present safety issues that would need addressing….

(Solution: Close the library to the general public while preschool is in session.) 

CB: Plan For Dramatic Expansion Of Hawaii Pre-K Programs Still Lacks Details

read … Hawaii Libraries Could Make Room For Early Learning Classrooms

New bill would limit ‘revolving door’ for lobbyists

SA: … A bill that would limit the ability of state lawmakers and top state officials to leave their government jobs and then quickly go to work lobbying the state Legislature is advancing in the state Senate.

Lawmakers aren’t naming names, but some recent high-profile state officials who quickly made the jump from government positions to lobbying include former Lt. Gov. Douglas Chin and former Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Luis Salaveria.

Another example was Bruce Coppa, former chief of staff to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who registered to lobby for more than two dozen businesses within weeks of the end of the Abercrombie administration.

Senate Bill 2114 was proposed by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, and would require that the governor and lieutenant governor, the heads of state departments in the governor’s Cabinet, the governor’s chief of staff and other key state officials wait at least a year before going to work lobbying the Legislature.

The existing ethics law requires former state employees to wait for one year before lobbying the departments where they worked or lobbying on issues they handled as state workers, but allows them to lobby the Legislature on other issues immediately….

SA: Ethics reform bills deserve a hearing

read … New bill would limit ‘revolving door’ for lobbyists

Good News: Wind Farm Developers Terrified of Public Opposition

CB: … measures, introduced this legislative session — a House bill and Senate companion — have broad support from lawmakers and renewable energy advocates. And with good reason. The bills chiefly make technical changes to how the state defines renewable energy used for electricity, something known as the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS.

The bottom line: the new bill tweaks the mandate so 100% renewable means just that, with no wiggle room for Hawaiian Electric to skirt the requirement.

But in testimony opposing the measure, Hawaiian Electric has raised a more fundamental question.

“We see growing issues concerning alignment of key energy, land use, and other policies, especially as communities have voiced concerns about siting of certain renewable energy projects,” the company’s corporate energy planning manager, Chris Lau, said in written testimony.

But Lau’s testimony shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s following Hawaii’s growing protest movement: the utility is concerned residents won’t really want the numerous large-scale solar and wind farms needed to replace the state’s fossil fuel-driven power plants.….

In Kahuku, more than 160 people were arrested last year after staging protests of AES Corp.’s Na Pua Makani wind farm – a project being developed on state agriculture land despite longstanding opposition by residents. Renewable energy projects on Maui and the Big Island have been hindered by litigation.

And the pushback comes as Hawaiian Electric is really just getting started. The utility has solicited bids from third parties to develop a massive array of projects. On Oahu alone, the company expects 20 to 29 contracts with private developers and a total investment of $2.5 billion to $4 billion, including land costs.

Projects are expected to occupy some 3,000 acres, the equivalent of 29 Aloha Stadiums.

Hawaiian Electric is expected to pick the winning bids in May, with regulatory approval following next year. The question is how many of these projects will come to fruition.

read … Hawaii’s Push For Renewable Energy Could Stall Over Public Opposition To Facilities

Bill 25: Enviros Trying to Increase Housing Costs (Again)

SA: … Bill 25 requires new construction to be pre-wired for electric cars and a pathway to add rooftop solar. Building industry groups argue that it will drive up construction costs …

read … Why are builders, environmentalists bickering over Bill 25?

NYT: Hawaii Is a Paradise, but Whose?

NYT: … A growing number of Hawaiians say that tourism isn’t working for them. Here’s how they are trying to change it…..

read … Hawaii Is a Paradise, but Whose?

REIT Tax is Baaaack

PBN: … At least four such bills to tax REITs have been introduced this year. One, Senate Bill 2409, cleared the Senate Committee on Housing last week while another, House Bill 2605, is scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Economic Development and Business on Wednesday….

read … National REIT org hires opens Hawaii office as lawmakers renew tax attempt

Genius: Prosecutor Endangers Felony Cases by Arresting Victims on Manini Warrants

HNN: … It was a violent carjacking of an elderly homeless man. The 63-year old, who did not want his name used, says he was ripped out of his SUV by Cleophus Hitchcock.

The victim still has scabs and bruises from the alleged incident that happened on Jan. 22.

“It happened so fast, he threw me down," he said. Because the man lives in the SUV that was being carjacked, he was not giving it up easily.

"I was mad. I got back up to pull him back out of the car and then he picked me up and threw me back down again,” he said.

Days later, the man was called to testify before the grand jury on the case. Then, he was taken to jail.

“There were three people waiting for me outside the grand jury area, waiting to arrest me for a traffic violation and three misdemeanors." He says he was cited for violations that included drinking in a public park.

The man said he spent seven hours in a freezing jail cell before being released….

In two weeks, two women, victims of separate, violent domestic attacks were also jailed for misdemeanor warrants while assisting the prosecution.

One of them, Grace Pineda, is expected to testify against her alleged attacker, Kristopher Kalani.

His trial is now underway, but in a pre-trial proceeding last Friday, an employee for the Honolulu prosecutor’s office was asked, on the stand, if this practice was part of a new effort or policy.

That employee, who says he works undercover and asked that his name not be used, said that he has never seen a policy or heard of a policy to arrest their victims.

He was asked more than once and stuck to his answer.

Circuit Court Judge Rowena Somerville was convinced during that hearing that there was no new policy saying, “We all know why warrants have been stepped up recently, it’s because the sheriffs are back in town, they’re not stuck on Mauna Kea anymore.”

But emails within the prosecutor’s office seem to contradict the statements made in court.

One email, dated Jan. 23, begins with the line, “A new policy came out… and is effective today.”

It goes on to describe the policy saying if a witness or victim has an outstanding bench warrant, the investigator is to serve the subpoena - to assist the prosecutors office in their case - and also execute the bench warrant and arrest them.

The email authored by Mark Yuen continues, “What that means... is that your witness/CW (complaining witness), could potentially be sitting in OCCC or cellblock or district court during your grand jury or preliminary hearing."

The elderly man carjacked says he was also told during his arrest that it was a new policy and the deputy prosecuting attorney on his case even apologized to him while he was being taken away, “He wanted to make sure that I wasn’t mad at him. He said it was his boss."…

read … Elderly homeless man testified against alleged carjacker. Then, he was confusingly arrested

Criminal Outwits Witless Probation System, Allegedly Kills man while on Lam

MN: … Police said the investigation showed that Blair and Allen knew each other.

Allen remained in police custody Monday with charges pending, and the investigation continuing, police said.

Police records show Allen also was arrested on two warrants totaling $60,000 for failure to appear in court in a probation-violation case.

In February 2019, Allen was placed on four years’ probation after spending about eight months in jail for first-degree terroristic threatening, according to 2nd Circuit Court records. He was arrested on the charge for brandishing a machete while saying he was going to kill another man on the night of June 6, 2018, at a campsite in Kihei, according to police. The victim had seen Allen and his girlfriend in a physical fight, police reported.

As part of a plea agreement, a second-degree assault charge against Allen was dismissed in another case.

In October, a bench warrant was issued for Allen based on allegations that he had violated his probation by failing to report to his probation officer, failing to pay fees and failing to provide verification of full-time employment. He also allegedly used illegal drugs and didn’t enroll in anger management treatment.

Allen was arrested Nov. 24 in Kihei on the probation-violation warrant and for investigation of drug possession charges, police records show.

On Dec. 27, he was granted temporary supervised release so he could go to the bank to get money to post a bond to be released, according to court records. He returned to court Dec. 30, saying he couldn’t get to the bank after being released, then didn’t show up in court Dec. 31, when his temporary release was revoked and another bench warrant was issued for his arrest, court records show.

On Monday, when Allen appeared in court in the probation-violation case, his bail was increased to $500,000, according to court records…..

(But don’t worry.  Soon the progressives will “abolish cash bail” and this poor fellow will be free again.)

Meanwhile: Alleged stabber to seek mental exam

read … Probation Fail (again)

After Blocking Impeachment, Insiders Use it as Excuse to Push Appointed Prosecutor

KHON: … Honolulu City Council Member Tommy Waters introduced a new resolution to allow people to vote in this year’s ballot on whether or not they want the prosecuting attorney to become an appointed position by the mayor, instead of being voted in by the public, as it is now.

The proposal comes as current Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro nears his 11th month on paid leave amid a federal corruption investigation.

“We have a situation where our elected official, making six figures, is able to put himself on paid leave and then appoint his successor, not an elected official… and that’s the problem I have,” said Waters.

He wants to change the law to give the mayor the power to appoint the prosecutor, but also have the ability to remove and replace the position quickly.

“Even if the person got convicted of a crime, it would be very difficult to remove that person from elected office, the only mechanism is through impeachment,” said Waters.

However, political analyst and Hawaii Pacific University professor Dr. John Hart said, this may be a hard sell.

“If we should let this be an appointed position, how much do you trust the person who’s doing the appointing?,” said Dr. Hart.

As seen in the past, appointed positions don’t always mean quick firings. The role of Honolulu Police Chief is an appointed position, but it took nearly a month and a $250,000 buyout to remove Louis Kealoha from the position after he received a federal target letter.

That process also came under criticism, since many of the decisions happened behind closed doors with little transparency.

Dr. Hart said in light of that, many may not want to give this kind of power to the mayor.

“It seems to me in this whole investigation, we gave people in office a lot of leeway, and is this necessarily going to fix things if the same people are going to be in charge of whether or not to pull the trigger to dismiss,” said Dr. Hart….

Related: Mauna Kea Protest Shows Need for a Return to Elected County Sheriffs

read … New proposal to make Honolulu prosecuting attorney appointed by mayor

Kauai FD: 18 Months Without a Chief

KGI: … The Kauai Fire Department’s union representatives called for greater transparency in the long-delayed process of selecting a new chief and said the county Fire Commission may have overstepped its bounds by hiring former KFD Chief Robert Westerman on an 89-day contract to fill the role he left vacant after retiring a year ago.

KFD Captain and chair of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association’s local division Bryan Doo urged fire commissioners at their meeting Monday to release more information about their progress.

“I get calls from our members all the time, asking what’s going on,” KFD Captain Bryan Doo said of the frequent inquiries he gets from firefighters with questions about the hiring process, to which he has no answers. “I go to the meetings. I read the minutes, but I really don’t know.”

It has been a year and a half since Westerman announced his retirement. The fire commission appeared on the verge of selecting a replacement just days before he stepped down last January, but the offer fell through after an hour-long executive session.

The commission has refused to follow KFD leadership’s recommendations about how to fill the fire chief position in the interim, ignoring proposals backed by several battalion chiefs, who testified at last month’s meeting about the benefits of filling the vacant chief position with existing staff.….

read … Firefighters call for transparency

1st Officer Still on Force: 2nd Officer Pleads Guilty to Making Homeless Dude Lick Urinal

AP: … John Rabago, who remains on restricted duty, pleaded guilty in December to depriving Ingall of his civil rights. Reginald Ramones, who left the department in August, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that he knew Rabago committed a civil rights violation but didn’t inform authorities.

According to Ingall’s lawsuit, Rabago followed him out of the bathroom and laughed as he told other officers about Ingall licking the urinal.

“For now, we’ll decline comment on the pending litigation,” city spokesman Alexander Zannes said.

Rabago wasn’t allowed to plead no contest, so he pleaded guilty to accept responsibility, defense attorney Megan Kau said Monday. The guilty plea “potentially puts the city at risk because of the civil lawsuit,” which was expected, she said….

HNN: Because the police officers were sued in their official capacity, the city and taxpayers will likely be on the hook if Ingall wins his lawsuit.

read … Homeless man sues Honolulu police, city for being forced to lick urinal

Statewide 67 officers disciplined last year, 15 fired

SA: … Sixty-seven island police officers — including 37 from the Honolulu Police Department — were disciplined last year, along with 15 officers who were fired across the state. HPD terminated six of its disciplined officers….

Some of HPD’s officers were fired for incidents in 2019 involving drugs and alcohol that sometimes involved crashes — or for covering up for other officers’ use of intoxicants while driving.

Some of the incidents are well known, such when HPD officer John Rabago pleaded guilty in federal court in December to forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal rather than face arrest….

One HPD officer was fired after testing positive for an undisclosed drug during a mandatory drug test. Another was fired after crashing a subsidized HPD vehicle while under the influence, lying about it to investigators at the scene of the crash and continuing to lie throughout the investigation, according to HPD’s disciplinary report released Monday.

Another HPD officer was fired for engaging in “sexual activity while on duty and under the color of police authority,” and another was fired after rear-ending another vehicle while the officer drove a subsidized HPD vehicle while under the influence.

A sixth HPD officer was fired after staging a burglary at his home, burning his vehicle and trying to collect an insurance payment on the fraudulent claim and also filing a false police report. It was one of only two out of 37 disciplinary reports to the Legislature where HPD identified an officer by gender….

One officer also was suspended for five days because the officer “Failed to remain impartial and did not conduct a thorough investigation of a motor vehicle collision involving an HPD officer,” among other shortcomings. Another officer received a written reprimand after the officer also “Failed to conduct a thorough investigation of a motor vehicle collision involving an HPD officer.”…

Hawaii County’s police department disciplined 13 officers and fired five of them, including:

>> An officer who made “unwanted physical contact with a juvenile female,” bringing “disrepute to himself and the department,” used his “personal vehicle to transport female juveniles while on duty” and used his personal vehicle while on patrol.

>> An officer who pushed a 5-year-old child and struck and assaulted his spouse.

>> An officer who used a nondepartment-issued firearm while on duty and failed to report discharging his weapon….

Kauai County disciplined five officers and fired two of them: One who was convicted of drunk driving, and another who conducted “personal business on duty and abused federally funded grant overtime.”

Two other Kauai officers were suspended for unspecified periods for similar incidents: One cheated on a test to be transferred to an unidentified “specialized unit,” and another “conspired to conceal cheating on test for transfer to specialized unit.” The fifth officer who was disciplined on Kauai “created a hostile work environment for a subordinate.”…

Maui County provided little information about the two officers it disciplined in 2019. Both were fired.

One, according to Maui County’s report to the Legislature, was “involved in four separate administrative investigations within a 12-month period, with disciplinary action imposed in each of the four cases.”

The other involved an officer who was fired for “Attempted perjury, attempted hindering prosecution, tampering with a witness.”…

read … Discipline Report

Hawaii Medicaid Contract Award Stalled Amid Protest From Insurer

CB: … The Hawaii Department of Human Services announced its contract awards last week limiting the number of plans that could work statewide to two companies: Hawaii Medical Service Association and United HealthCare Insurance Company.

It offered two contracts for Oahu-only service to AlohaCare and Ohana Health Plan, also known as WellCare Health Insurance of Arizona. AlohaCare, which submitted a bid for a contract in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, publicly expressed disappointment in the DHS decision.

The move was an unprecedented effort to consolidate insurance plans and limit insurance options for Medicaid patients. Shortly after, DHS received a Notice of Protest on Jan. 29 from an unnamed party.

Department officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the protest against the 2020 QUEST Integration (QI) Contract Awards. But the department has acknowledged online that the awards will be suspended until a resolution is reached.

“Pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules §3-148-501, all QI Contract Award implementation activities are suspended until further notice,” the department said in a statement…..

read … Hawaii Medicaid Contract Award Stalled Amid Protest From Insurer

Democratic candidates vow to cover Micronesians who lost Medicaid

P: … Four leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination said that their health care plans would cover tens of thousands of Pacific Islanders who were promised Medicaid coverage after U.S. nuclear-weapons testing but lost coverage in a 1996 welfare reform bill.

Spokespeople for the campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe Biden and businessman Andrew Yang all vowed that their candidates would provide coverage for residents of the Marshall Islands, a population profiled by POLITICO last week, as well as cover residents of Palau and Micronesia….

read … Democratic candidates vow to cover islanders who lost Medicaid

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